U.S. livestock: CME live cattle futures finish mostly weak; hogs lower

Chicago/Reuters – Most Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle contracts ended weak on Thursday, after investors sold deferred months and bought August led by near-term bullish fundamentals, traders said.

August closed up 0.300 cent per lb at 145.225 cents, October down 0.025 cent at 146.450 cents and December 0.150 cent lower at 148.125 cents.

Market-ready, or cash, cattle prices are expected the same or more than last week as negative packer margins approach break-even helped by this week’s generally higher beef cutout values, partly due to reduced slaughters.

Cash bids in Kansas and Texas remained at $143 to per cwt against $148 asking prices, feedlot sources said. Nebraska bids were at $144 to $145 with no response from feedyards, they said.

Last week, cash cattle in the U.S. Plains moved at $145 to $146 per cwt.

Beef processor margins for Thursday were at a negative $18.49 per head, compared with a negative $26.56 on Wednesday, as calculated by HedgersEdge.com.

The morning’s wholesale choice beef price, or cutout, was at $233.69 per cwt, $1.07 higher than on Wednesday. Select cuts rose 23 cents to $229.30, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

At 427,000 head, 8,000 fewer cattle were processed from Monday to Thursday than last week, according to USDA estimates.

Profit-taking and firm corn prices pressured CME feeder cattle contracts.

August closed 0.250 cent per lb lower at 211.225 cents.

Hog futures advance

Soft wholesale pork values and profit-taking weighed on CME lean hogs, traders said.

August ended down 0.175 cent per lb at 79.675 cents, and October 0.375 cent lower at 65.700 cents.

USDA data showed the wholesale pork price on Thursday morning at $84.98 per cwt, 99 cents lower than on Wednesday after loins dropped $4.48.

Despite Thursday morning’s pork cutout slippage, product demand has held up reasonably well considering the larger supplies, said Brock Associates Inc analyst Doug Houghton.

The morning’s wholesale pork price was at $84.98 per cwt, down 99 cents from Tuesday, USDA said.

From Monday to Thursday, packers processed an estimated 1.687 million hogs, up 42,000 from last week, according to government data.

Investors await the USDA’s afternoon cash hog price report for signs whether profitable margins for packers will encourage them to pay more for inventory.

Cash hogs in the Midwest on Thursday morning sold as much as $1 higher than on Wednesday, regional hog dealers said.

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