U.S. livestock: CME live cattle, hogs climb on short-covering

(Regis Lefebure photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle closed higher on Thursday on short-covering and futures’ discounts to cash prices, traders said.

June closed up 1.025 cents per pound, to 152.375 cents, and August was 1.175 cents higher at 150.9 cents (all figures US$).

This week, the bulk of market-ready (cash) cattle in the U.S. Plains fetched $159 to $161 per hundredweight (cwt), steady to $2 lower than last week, feedlots sources said.

Packers who shored up near-term inventories underpinned cash prices in parts of the Plains, while others needed fewer cattle due to plant shutdowns for the U.S. Memorial Day holiday on Monday, analysts and traders said.

Some investors evened up positions before USDA’s monthly Cattle-On-Feed and cold storage reports that will be released at noon ET on Friday, rather than 3 p.m. ET, due to Monday’s holiday.

With respect the Cattle-On-Feed report, most analysts polled by Reuters expected a year-over-year increase in the number of cattle that entered feedlots last month.

A few analysts, on average, estimated last month’s cold storage total beef stocks at 475.7 million lbs., and pork stocks at 680.9 million lbs.

CME’s May feeder cattle contract, which expired at noon CT, settled at 220.1 cents/lb., up 0.375 and near the exchange’s feeder cattle index for May 20 at 219.78 cents.

Live cattle futures buying pushed up remaining feeder cattle contracts.

August ended 1.025 cents higher at 217.725 cents and September up 0.95 cent to 216.825 cents.

Hog futures finish higher

CME lean hogs gained on short covering, partly due to the day’s wholesale pork price upswing, traders said.

June closed 1.225 cents/lb. higher at 83.775 cents, and July up 0.5 cent, to 83.85 cents.

USDA data quoted the morning’s wholesale pork price at $87.43/cwt, up $1.30 from Wednesday.

Retailers will closely watch weather, especially on the densely-populated U.S. East Coast, to determine meat clearance over the holiday weekend.

Many packers are thought to have enough hogs for post-holiday production, but there may be pockets where packers might compete for supplies.

“For next week I’m already having a hard time trying to find hogs for myself,” an Ohio hog dealer said.

The morning’s cash hog prices in the Midwest region were steady to $1/cwt lower than on Wednesday, regional hog dealers said.

Theopolis Waters reports on livestock markets for Reuters from Chicago.

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