U.S. livestock: CME live cattle dip while awaiting cash prices

(Photo courtesy Canada Beef Inc.)

Chicago | Reuters –– Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures posted modest losses on Friday, weighed down by profit-taking while waiting for market-ready, or cash, cattle to change hands later on Friday, traders said.

Beginning on Monday, CME Globex livestock futures and options hours will be revised to 8:30 a.m. to 1:05 p.m. CT Monday to Friday.

The February contract, which will expire on Monday, closed down 0.325 cent/lb. to 137.55 cents, and April ended 0.35 cent lower at 137 cents (all figures US$).

Cash cattle bids in the U.S. Plains were at $135-$136/cwt, with sellers holding out for at least $138, said feedlot sources. Last week, cash cattle traded at $133-$134.

Some packers may need cattle as supplies tighten in the weeks ahead, said David Hales, author of the Hales Cattle Letter.

“The retailer is watching the cash market, and if the packer doesn’t pay up for cattle this week they’re not going to pay up for beef,” said Hales.

The morning’s wholesale choice beef price, or cutout, was up seven cents/cwt from Thursday, to $218.83. Select cuts slipped 24 cents, to $213.74, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

Profit-taking and weak live cattle futures pressured CME feeder cattle contracts. March closed 0.45 cent/lb. lower at 158.65.

Weak hog futures settlement

Profit taking and the morning’s cash price setback undercut CME lean hogs, traders said.

April closed 0.275 cent/lb. lower at 70.85 cents, and May finished down 0.175 cent/lb. to 76.925.

Friday morning’s average cash hog price in Iowa/Minnesota slumped $2.06/cwt from Thursday in light volume to $64.36, USDA said.

More hogs are available after packing plants returned to normal operations following early-week weather and maintenance disruptions, traders and analysts said.

Still, some market bulls cited the government’s most recent quarterly hog report that showed fewer supplies as spring approaches, which could support cash prices.

Theopolis Waters reports on livestock markets for Reuters from Chicago.

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