Chicago | Reuters – U.S. live cattle futures shot to a six-month high on Friday and feeder cattle reached their highest prices since May on fund buying and strength in the cash market, analysts said.
Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) December live cattle settled up 2.3 cents at 119.525 cents per pound after reaching 119.7 cents, its highest level since April 25.
CME most-active January feeder cattle futures climbed 1.325 cents to 146 cents per pound after jumping to 146.7, its highest price since May 10.
Fund buying continued to support cattle, and the cash market is firming up, said Don Roose, president of Iowa-based broker U.S. Commodities.
Cash cattle traded this week at $112 per cwt in Kansas and Texas, up from about $110 last week, according to traders. Boxed beef prices were also stronger for choice and select cuts.
U.S. beef packing companies were earning an estimated $326.80 per head of cattle, up from $290.75 a week ago, according to Denver-based livestock marketing advisory service HedgersEdge.com LLC. Pork packing companies were making an estimated $50.15 per hog, up from $35.15 a week ago.
Hog futures ended mixed, with the CME December contract slipping 1.55 cents to 64.45 cents per pound.
Traders continue to watch for increased export demand as China, the world’s top pork consumer, is grappling with the fatal pig disease African swine fever. China has ramped up total imports of pork as its domestic prices have soared following outbreaks of the disease, which has devastated the world’s largest hog herd.
American pork producers face a disadvantage in making sales to China because Beijing imposed a 72 percent tariff on imports from the United States as part of the countries’ ongoing trade war.
U.S. President Donald Trump said talks on a trade agreement with China were coming along well, echoing comments by U.S. and Chinese officials of progress on an initial deal.