U.S. livestock: Technical selling sends CME live cattle lower

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures extended Monday’s losses into Tuesday on more profit-taking and technical selling, traders said.

April live cattle ended 0.55 cent/lb. lower at 133.525 cents, and beneath the 100-day moving average of 133.68 cents (all figures US$). June closed 0.375 cent lower at 122.85 cents.

Futures declined despite the possibility that packers short on inventory might pay more later this week for market-ready, or cash, cattle as beef demand improves for spring cookouts.

But some packers may curb cash spending given their negative margins and more than 19,000 head of cattle for sale than last week.

“Warming temperatures could and should stimulate beef buying. However, we’re a little concerned that now is the time of year where (more) supplies start to offset increased demand,” said Allendale Inc. chief strategist Rich Nelson.

Last week, packers in the U.S. Plains paid $132-$136/cwt.

The average beef packer margin on Tuesday was estimated at a negative $47.25 per head, up from a negative $62.35 on Monday and a negative $47 a week ago, as calculated by HedgersEdge.com.

The morning’s wholesale choice beef price surged $2.50/cwt from Monday, to $218.95. Select cuts climbed $2.14, to $209.19, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

Fallen live cattle futures and weaker cash feeder cattle prices weighed on CME feeder cattle contracts. April closed down 0.275 cent/lb., to 155.275 cents.

Generally weak hog futures

Most CME lean hog contracts slipped on their premiums to the exchange’s hog index for April 8 at 66.52 cents, traders said.

They said April futures tracked the hog index as the contract prepares to expire on Thursday.

April closed up 0.25 cent/lb. to 66.6 cents, May ended down 0.3 cents/lb. to 75.1 cents and June finished 0.425 cent lower at 79.2.

The lack of concise cash and pork price direction kept fundamental traders on the defensive.

Government data on Tuesday showed the morning average cash hog price in the western Midwest down 25 cents/cwt from Monday in light volume to $62.95.

Tuesday morning’s wholesale pork price was 49 cents/cwt higher than on Monday at $77.66, the USDA said.

Tight supplies and better grilling demand are supportive market factors, said Nelson. But it is amazing how cash hog and wholesale pork prices have been confined within a very tight trading range, he said.

Theopolis Waters reports on livestock markets for Reuters from Chicago.

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