U.S. livestock: Cattle decline on profit-taking

Lean hogs at three-week high

(Photo courtesy Canada Beef Inc.)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. cattle futures declined on Tuesday, with live cattle easing one per cent as traders locked in profits following recent steep gains and amid uncertainty over how cash markets would develop this week, traders and analysts said.

Lean hog futures climbed to a three-week high at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, boosted by technical buying.

Bird flu infected poultry at three sites in Alabama, news that did not affect hog or cattle futures, the analysts said.

CME April live cattle futures notched their largest daily declines since March 2, finishing 1.425 cents lower at 116.325 cents/lb. and snapping a four-session streak of higher prices. CME April feeder cattle futures were down 0.675 cent to 127.425 cents.

“There’s a real hesitation to buy into the length,” said CHS Hedging analyst Steve Wagner, adding that traders were waiting for cash cattle trade to develop, including Wednesday morning’s online Fed Cattle Exchange auction.

“Packers aren’t paying up or down yet — that will set the tone for the rest of the week,” Wagner said.

Beef packers in the Plains last week paid from $121 to $127/cwt for cattle, compared with $124-$126 the previous week.

Wintry weather in the eastern half of the U.S. resulted in canceled flights and closed schools, potentially curbing demand for goods such as meat.

Choice-grade wholesale beef prices eased 41 cents to $220.14/cwt. Beef prices on Monday hit $220.55, highest since July, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

Pork in the wholesale market gained 40 cents to $82.76/cwt, led by gains in ham cuts, USDA said.

CME April lean hog futures extended Monday’s gains, finishing Tuesday’s session up 0.6 cent, to 70.825 cents/lb., the highest since Feb. 21.

— Michael Hirtzer reports on commodity markets for Reuters from Chicago.

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