U.S. livestock: CME live cattle slump fourth straight day

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle settled in bearish territory for a fourth straight session, on leftover selling and fund liquidation after contracts dropped below technical support levels, traders said.

April live cattle ended 1.925 cents/lb lower at 136.425, and June finished 1.7 cents lower at 126.15 (all figures US$). Both contracts ended below their respective 20-day moving average 137.89 and 127.32 cents.

Futures’ losses, tepid wholesale beef demand and more cattle for sale than last week might pressure prices for market-ready, or cash, cattle later this week, said traders and analysts.

Some packing plants will be closed on Good Friday and most will be dark on Easter Monday, which could reduce packer needs for supplies.

The morning’s wholesale choice beef price slipped 33 cents/cwt from Monday to $229.47. Select cuts were up 40 cents, to $221.07, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

Last week, cash cattle in the U.S. Plains moved at mostly $139/cwt, up $1 from the previous week, said feedlot sources.

Futures finished off from session lows, helped by bargain hunting and short-covering ahead of the Easter holiday, traders and analysts said.

USDA will release the monthly cold storage report on Tuesday at 2 p.m. CT that will include February beef and pork inventories.

A few analysts, on average, estimated last month’s cold storage total beef stocks at 509.3 million lbs., and beef at 683.5 million lbs.

CME feeder cattle futures mimicked live cattle’s four-day losing skid. March, which will expire on Thursday, closed 0.825 cent/lb. lower at 161.55 cents.

Hog futures end higher

Short-covering, technical buying and upward-trending wholesale pork prices lifted CME lean hogs, traders said.

April closed 0.8 cent/lb. higher at 70.15 cents, May ended up 0.8 cent to 78.475 cents and June finished one cent higher at 82.85 cents.

The morning wholesale pork price on Tuesday was up 60 cents/cwt from Monday to $77.51, according to government data.

Retailers bought pork to avoid potential shortages when plants are shutdown over the holiday, which reduces the number of hogs packers will need.

Tuesday morning’s average cash hog price in the western corn belt had fallen $1.47 cents/cwt in light volume from Monday to $62.21, the USDA said.

Investors adjusted positions before the government’s quarterly hog report that will be released on Good Friday.

Theopolis Waters reports on livestock markets for Reuters from Chicago.

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