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U.S. livestock: Bargain hunting, USDA report boost CME live cattle

Feeder cattle close higher; lean hog contracts advance

(Photo courtesy Canada Beef Inc.)

Chicago | Reuters –– Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures finished higher on Monday, fueled by bargain hunting and short-covering following a four-day losing streak, traders said.

Spot-October closed one cent per pound higher at 137 cents, and December ended up 1.375 cents, to 139.75.

Traders said CME live cattle were further supported by Friday’s U.S. Department of Agriculture Cattle on Feed report.

The report showed less cattle on feed, or feedlot supply, and fewer cattle than expected placed in feedyards than a year ago.

“The bigger number to me is on-feed that showed we’re under 10 million head. We don’t have a problem with too many cattle; we have a problem with too many heavy cattle,” said CHS Hedging analyst Steve Wagner.

Heavyweight cattle pressured cash prices and increased beef tonnage amid a seasonal lull in demand, while competing with more affordable pork and chicken, traders and analysts said.

Last week, market-ready (cash) cattle in the U.S. Plains sold at $135 to $136/cwt, as much as $6 lower than the week before.

Monday morning’s wholesale choice beef price dropped 50 cents, to $225.80/cwt from Friday. Select cuts climbed $1.60, to $220.86, USDA said.

The government will issue the monthly cold storage report on Tuesday, which will include August beef and pork inventories.

A few analysts, on average, estimated last month’s cold storage total beef stocks at 440.1 million lbs. and pork at 646.4 million.

CME feeder cattle drew support from live cattle market gains and future discounts to the exchange’s latest feeder cattle index at 200.02 cents.

September, which will expire on Thursday, closed 1.9 cents/lb. higher at 194.7 cents.

Higher hog futures settlement

Short-covering and grocer buying for National Pork Month in October pushed up CME lean hogs, traders said.

Spot-October hogs closed 0.575 cent/lb. higher at 71.625 cents and December 0.825 cent higher at 64.975.

Monday morning’s wholesale pork price was at $83.84/cwt, up 94 cents from Friday, led by the more than $3 hike in costs for pork bellies and loins, according to USDA data.

Uneasiness about cash prices, given plentiful supplies and ahead of a seasonal growth in hog numbers, limited futures advances.

Monday morning’s cash hogs in the Midwest traded steady to 50 cents/cwt lower as packer demand varied, according to regional hog dealers.

Theopolis Waters reports on livestock markets for Reuters from Chicago.

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