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U.S. livestock: Cash prices lift live cattle futures

Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures ended firmer on Friday, helped by higher cash prices, traders said.

Packers in Texas and Kansas paid $132 per hundredweight (cwt) on Friday for cash or slaughter-ready cattle, $1 higher than last week, feedlot sources said (all figures US$).

Generally tight cattle supplies in the near term and recent futures advances were supportive cash cattle factors, traders and analysts said.

“The (live cattle) futures felt like it wanted to go down but then the cash trade came out and propped it up,” a trader said.

Processors were reluctant to overpay for supplies given their poor operating margins and lacklustre wholesale beef demand.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported Friday afternoon’s choice beef wholesale price at $201.16/cwt, down $1.40 from Thursday. That price was the lowest since $200.97 on Oct. 25.

The National Beef packing plant in Liberal, Kan., shut down operations on Thursday and Friday for mechanical repairs, but plans to reopen on Saturday, a company spokesman told Reuters on Friday.

CME live cattle December finished up 0.425 cent per pound at 133.4 cents, and February closed at 134.8 cents, up 0.275 cent.

Feeder cattle futures moved up with CME live cattle futures and as corn prices drifted lower.

November feeders closed up 0.125 cent at 165.15 cents/lb., and January ended at 165.825 cents, 0.625 cent higher on the day.

Hogs rise despite lower cash prices

Short-covering following three straight days of market losses pushed up CME hogs, traders and analysts said.

Futures gained despite the pullback in cash hog and wholesale pork prices amid abundant supplies at record-high weights, traders said.

Cooler fall temperatures and less-expensive newly harvested corn is allowing hogs to put on weight quickly.

“Until we see some signs of the weights coming down it will be hard to see a sustained futures rally. The packers don’t need to chase hogs,” said independent livestock futures trader Dan Norcini.

Friday afternoon’s cash hog prices in the closely watched Iowa/Minnesota market were at $79.58/cwt, down 40 cents from Thursday, USDA said.

The government’s Friday afternoon wholesale pork price for pork dropped $2/cwt from Thursday to $91.97, following a $7.35 plunge in costs for pork bellies, which are made into bacon.

December hogs ended up 0.3 cent at 85.9 cents/lb., while February closed up 0.475 cent at 90.275 cents.

— Meredith Davis reports on U.S. ag commodities for Reuters from Chicago.

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