Chicago | Reuters — U.S. live cattle futures were mixed on Thursday, with the nearby contract easing while deferred months firmed slightly on positioning ahead of two big U.S. Department of Agriculture reports due Friday, traders said.
Some investors were unwinding bull spreads placed during the cattle market’s rally to its highest in more than two weeks on Wednesday.
Firmer wholesale beef prices underpinned the cattle futures market.
Cash cattle sold for $112/cwt at Wednesday’s Fed Cattle Exchange, up about $1 from a week earlier (all figures US$). CME feeder cattle futures were slightly higher, following the strength in the cash market.
U.S. lean hog futures closed mostly higher, rebounding from three straight days of gains that pushed the market to contract lows on a round of bargain buying.
Most active CME October hogs settled up 0.3 cent at 52.225 cents/lb. while August hogs rose 0.05 cent, to 67.25 cents.
CME August live cattle closed Thursday down 0.05 cent at 108.9 cents/lb. CME October live cattle was unchanged at 110.65 cents.
CME August feeder cattle futures settled unchanged at 154.45 cents/lb. and September feeders rose 0.125 cents to 154.775 cents.
USDA will release its monthly Cattle on Feed report and its semiannual cattle inventory report on Friday afternoon.
Analysts were expecting the U.S. cattle herd to be up 0.7 per cent from a year ago. Cattle on feed as of July 1 were expected to be 104 per cent of last year’s total.
— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago.