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U.S. livestock: CME live cattle slide before USDA report

Feeder cattle close firm; more lean hog market gains

(Photo courtesy Canada Beef Inc.)

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures lost modest ground on Friday, amid caution ahead of Friday afternoon’s cash prices and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s monthly Cattle on Feed report, traders said.

Analysts expect the report to show fewer cattle placed into feedlots last month than a year ago.

Spot December finished 0.2 cent/lb. lower at 129.7 cents, and February was down 0.025 cent at 132.025 cents (all figures US$).

Packers bid $126 to $127/cwt for market-ready (cash) cattle in Kansas and $122 to $123 in Nebraska, against sellers in both states who priced animals over $131, feedlot sources said.

Last week, cash cattle in the U.S. Plains brought $126 to $129/cwt.

Southern feedlots are holding cattle that weigh less than cattle in the north, a trader said, adding that southern Plains processors might need inventory despite at least one fewer day of production during the Thanksgiving holiday.

Winter-like weather bearing down on the Midwest could create muddy conditions in feedyards while snarling transportation of animals to packing plants.

And beef demand has taken a back seat to “turkey day” promotions for the upcoming holiday.

Persistent market volatility and cash price uncertainty have put investors on the defensive.

“You talk to a lot of people that have been in the know forever, and they’re confused,” said KIS Futures vice-president Lane Broadbent.

Technical buying and short covering lifted CME feeder cattle futures, with January ending 1.2 cents/lb. higher at 163.65.

Hog futures rise again

CME lean hogs gained for a fourth straight session, fueled by short covering and technical buying, traders said.

Spot December finished 2.05 cents/lb. higher at 57.45 cents, after breaking through the 20-day moving average of 56.81 cents. February closed 1.6 cents higher at 58.325 cents.

Futures buyers ignored plentiful seasonal supplies that weakened the morning’s cash and wholesale pork values.

Packers are on pace to process 2.4 million hogs, including USDA’s estimated 215,000-head Saturday kill. Overall, that will be 12,000 more than last week when some plants were dark in observance of the Veterans Day holiday.

Friday morning’s wholesale pork price dipped 39 cents/cwt from Thursday, to $74, USDA said.

Separate government data showed cash hog prices in the Iowa/Minnesota market on Friday morning shed 23 cents/cwt from Thursday, to $50.86.

Theopolis Waters reports on livestock markets for Reuters from Chicago.

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