U.S. livestock: Fundamentals undercut CME hog futures

(Regis Lefebure photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange lean hog futures finished weaker for the first time in four sessions on Wednesday, pressured by profit-taking and uneasiness about cash and wholesale pork prices as October Pork Month winds down, said traders.

December lean hogs finished 0.425 cent/lb. lower at 44.2 cents, and February down 0.25 cent, to 51.125 cents (all figures US$).

Except for a few plants that need light-weight hogs, most packers are not seeking supplies after filling inventories for the balance of the week, an Indiana hog merchant said.

He said pork demand in early November could struggle at a time when cool weather and new-crop corn allows pigs to grow faster — pumping more tonnage into the retail sector.

Wednesday morning’s wholesale pork values slipped 11 cents/cwt to $73.35 from Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

Separate USDA data on Wednesday morning showed slaughter-ready, or cash, hog prices in the western Midwest at $45.73 cents, 43 cents lower than on Tuesday.

Higher cattle market close

CME live cattle pared some of Tuesday’s losses on short-covering and anticipation for firmer overall cash prices by week’s end, said traders.

October live cattle closed 0.325 cent/lb. higher at 103.05 cents, and most actively traded December 0.5 cent higher at 104.4.

Both contracts held above their respective 40-day moving averages of 102.39 and 103.26 cents.

Investors were encouraged by Wednesday morning’s average sale price of $103 per cwt for about 75 per cent of the 12,000 animals that were listed at the Fed Cattle Exchange (FCE).

Most cash cattle in the U.S. Plains last week brought $99-$100.

“Futures got a bump from the Fed Cattle Exchange, but not a big one because people want solid proof that the cash market is going to get a lot better,” said KIS Futures vice-president Lane Broadbent.

Market participants believe packers will pay more than last week for remaining supplies given their extremely profitable margins, current futures prices and expectations of improved beef demand ahead.

Live cattle futures buying lifted CME feeder cattle contracts.

October feeders, which will expire on Thursday, ended up 0.425 cent/lb. to 121.975 cents. Most actively traded November finished 1.275 cents higher at 123.925 cents.

Theopolis Waters reports on livestock markets for Reuters from Chicago.

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