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U.S. livestock: CME live cattle pare early losses

Feeder cattle finish weaker; lean hogs settle lower

(Photo courtesy Canada Beef Inc.)

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle settled flat to weaker on Wednesday, pressured by initial lower cash prices, but futures’ discounts to those cash values minimized losses, traders said.

April closed unchanged at 156.3 cents, and June 0.7 cent lower at 146.025 cents (all figures US$).

A few market-ready (cash) cattle in Kansas sold at $158 per hundredweight (cwt), down from $160 to $161 there a week ago, according to industry sources.

Last week, overall cash cattle in the U.S. Plains fetched $160-$163/cwt.

While some traders see processors pressuring cash bids for unsold cattle as they await a seasonal bump in supplies, others are encouraged by positive packer margins.

Wednesday morning’s choice wholesale beef price was at $261.18/cwt, up $1.36 from Tuesday. Select cuts climbed 84 cents, to $250.39, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

Wednesday’s beef packer margins were a positive $23.80 per head, compared with a positive $18.10 on Tuesday and a negative $11.50 last week, according to

USDA will issue its monthly cold storage report at 2 p.m. CT, which will include total March beef and pork inventories.

A few analysts estimated last month’s total beef stocks on average at 498.1 million lbs., and pork stocks at 691.8 million lbs.

CME feeder cattle drew pressure from live cattle futures.

April closed down 0.1 cent/lb. to 212.55 cents, and May 0.225 cent lower at 206.75 cents.

Hogs under pressure

CME lean hogs ended lower on fund selling and futures’ persistent premiums to the exchange’s latest hog index at 64.76 cents, traders said.

May closed 0.9 cent/lb. lower at 70.7 cents, and below the 10-day moving average of 70.98 cents. June settled at 75.95 cents, 1.65 cents lower and under the 20-day moving average of 76.42 cents.

Grocers are buying pork on an as-needed basis at lower prices given plentiful supplies, which weighed on wholesale values and futures, said Doane Advisory Services economist Dan Vaught.

USDA data showed Wednesday morning’s wholesale pork price fell $1.10/cwt from Tuesday to $67.51.

Meanwhile, packers upped cash bids to round out this week’s production, traders said.

The morning’s cash prices for hogs in Iowa/Minnesota rose 69 cents per cwt to $63.13 from Tuesday, based on the USDA data.

Theopolis Waters reports on livestock futures markets for Reuters from Chicago.

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