U.S. livestock: CME live cattle turn lower

(Photo courtesy Canada Beef Inc.)

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures on Thursday gave back some of Wednesday’s gains, pressured by profit-taking and technical selling, said traders.

They said early-session futures buying subsided after investors digested this week’s cash prices.

February live cattle closed 0.6 cent/lb. lower at 115.075 cents (all figures US$). April ended down 0.575 cent to 114.15 cents, and below the 10-day moving average of 114.58 cents.

This week, slaughter-ready, or cash, cattle in the U.S. Plains brought $116 to $118/cwt, steady to $4 lower than a week ago, said feedlot sources.

Wednesday’s Fed Cattle Exchange resulted in $115.50-$117.25/cwt sales, compared with mostly $115-$116.75 a week earlier.

Some packers paid steady money for supplies to accommodate the first full workweek since the Christmas holiday, a trader said. Beef sales benefited from shoppers eying meat protein other than ham and turkey after the year-end holidays, he said.

Thursday morning’s choice wholesale beef price was up 22 cents/cwt from Wednesday to $203.87. Select cuts climbed 61 cents to $194.91, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

Subsequent CME live cattle futures selling pressured the change’s feeder cattle contracts.

January feeders closed down 0.25 cent/lb., to 128.25 cents.

Firmer hog futures

Strong cash prices and the morning’s higher wholesale pork values, as arctic air returns to the Midwest, lifted CME lean hogs for a second day in a row, said traders.

February hogs ended up 0.275 cent/lb. to 64.875 cents, and April closed 0.35 cent higher at 68.325 cents.

Cash hog prices on Thursday morning in the U.S. Midwest were steady to $1/cwt higher, according to regional hog dealers.

“You might have a few packers cancelling kills because some of these guys (farmers) don’t want to open up their barns in order to keep out the cold,” a Midwest hog merchant said.

He said retailers may have bought pork to avoid a potential inventory shortage resulting from late delivery of hogs to packing plants.

USDA estimated Thursday’s hog slaughter at 434,000 head, down 10,000 from a week ago.

Thursday morning’s wholesale pork price jumped 84 cents/cwt from Wednesday to $80.15, mostly led by $8 higher hams, USDA said.

The weaker dollar, which makes U.S. pork more attractive to foreign buyers, provided underlying futures market support, said traders and analysts.

— Theopolis Waters reports on livestock markets for Reuters from Chicago.

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