Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures settled higher on Friday on positioning before this week’s cash prices and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s monthly Cattle-On-Feed report at 2 p.m. CT, traders said.
Most analysts expect Friday’s report to show cattle placements in October declined from last year.
USDA will simultaneously issue the monthly cold storage data, which will include total October beef and pork stocks.
A few analysts forecast an average October inventory of 371.1 million pounds for beef and 537.7 million lbs. for pork.
Investors are unsure about market-ready, or cash, prices after packers last week paid a record US$172 per hundredweight (cwt).
Cash bids in Kansas were at $168/cwt against asking prices of $173 and more, feedlot sources said (all figures US$).
Fewer cattle for sale and the recent uptick in wholesale beef values may lend support to cash prices.
But packers may need fewer cattle, with plants scheduled to be dark at least one day during the Thanksgiving holiday.
Friday morning’s choice wholesale beef price was up 26 cents/cwt from Thursday to $255.65. Select gained 34 cents to $243.33, USDA said.
December closed up 0.65 cent/lb. at 170.9 cents, and February rose 0.325 cent to 172.150 cents.
CME feeder cattle drew support from live cattle market advances and short-covering.
January closed 0.775 cent/lb. higher at 236.35 cents, and March was up 0.725 cent at 234.45 cents.
Hogs close weak
CME lean hogs ended weaker following lower wholesale pork values and in anticipation of downward-trending cash prices, traders said.
December closed down 0.125 cent/lb. at 90.65 cents and February at 90.45 cents, down 0.45 cent.
Slaughter-ready, or cash, hogs in the Midwest traded mostly steady from Thursday with a weak tone, regional dealers said.
The morning’s wholesale pork price was down 74 cents/cwt from Thursday to $92.88, based on USDA data.
Packers have ample supplies in advance of Thanksgiving, while supermarkets are close to buying all the hams needed for winter holiday demand.
— Theopolis Waters reports on livestock futures markets for Reuters from Chicago.