U.S. livestock: CME feeder cattle limit up on bearish corn data

Chicago | Reuters –– Chicago Mercantile Exchange feeder cattle futures on Thursday settled up their 4.5-cents/lb. maximum daily price limit, spurred by the morning’s bearish government grain report, traders said.

U.S. farmers intend to plant 93.6 million acres of corn and 82.2 million acres of soybeans in 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Thursday.

Potentially cheaper feed ahead is good news for feedlot operators because it cuts their costs of feeding cattle, a trader said.

April feeder cattle closed limit up at 157.075 cents/lb. (all figures US$). The limit will be expanded to 6.75 cents on Friday.

Live cattle futures rally

CME live cattle recouped some of their recent losses, aided by short-covering on the last session for the quarter and future’s discounts to market-ready, or cash, prices, traders said.

April live cattle ended up 0.575 cent/lb. to 132.925 cents, and June closed 0.95 cent higher at 124.025.

So far, southern Plains cash cattle brought $133-$134/cwt, $2-$3 below last week’s sales, said feedlot sources. They said remaining feedyards are holding out for more money.

Processors slashed cash bids given their sagging bottom lines, current futures prices and seasonally slow wholesale beef demand.

The morning’s wholesale choice beef price, or cutout, dropped 87 cents/cwt from Wednesday, to $221. Select cuts fell $1.62, to $211.06, USDA said.

The average beef packer margin on Thursday was estimated at a negative $38.95 per head, down from a negative $15.25 on Wednesday and a negative $2.20 a week ago, as calculated by HedgersEdge.com.

Feeder cattle future’s limit-up move helped lift back-month live cattle contracts.

Typically, live cattle futures rally in sympathy with feeder cattle, said Oak Investment Group president Joe Ocrant. But in reality, less-costly corn means more cattle will be put on feed, resulting in more animals for slaughter later, he added.

Lower hog market close

Sell stops, technical selling and sharply lower wholesale pork prices pressured CME lean hogs, traders said.

April closed 0.575 cent/lb. lower at 68.35 cents, May ended down 0.05 cent to 77.225 and June finished 0.7 cent lower at 80.85.

The morning wholesale pork price on Thursday tumbled $1.63/cwt from Wednesday, to $75.96, snapping a three-day win streak, based on USDA data.

Retailers bought most of the pork needed for early April grilling promotions after the Easter holiday, traders and analysts said.

Theopolis Waters reports on livestock markets for Reuters from Chicago.

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