U.S. livestock: Hogs end mixed on profit-taking

(Regis Lefebure photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. lean hog futures jumped to the highest levels in three months on Wednesday, rising alongside wholesale pork prices before some hog contracts turned lower on profit-taking, traders and analysts said.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange cattle futures were mostly higher, buoyed by expectations that U.S. consumers will buy more meat for outdoor grilling as temperatures rise.

Prices for both pork and beef have risen sharply in May as retailers made purchases to stock meat coolers ahead of the U.S. Memorial Day holiday on May 29 — the unofficial start of the summer grilling season.

“Pork looks like it’s getting a bid – attracting some serious buying,” said independent livestock trader Dan Norcini.

The wholesale pork cutout gained $2.18, to $87.26/cwt, the highest since July, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data (all figures US$).

CME June lean hogs reached a peak of 79.95 cents/lb., before finishing 0.175 cent higher at 78.9 cents. July hog futures declined 0.475 cent, to 79 cents.

Norcini said investors locked in profits when hog futures neared 80 cents/lb. “If we get consistently warm weather, that should generate good pork demand,” he said.

Cattle futures, which have eased from the one-year highs notched two weeks ago, climbed slightly even as wholesale beef prices declined.

CME June live cattle were up 0.55 cent at 122.45 cents/lb. and August cattle were up 0.575 cent, to 118.825 cents. CME August feeder cattle edged up 0.025 cent to 147.725 cents/lb.

Choice-grade beef fell $1.17, to $248.17/cwt, USDA said after the closing of futures trading.

Cattle for prompt delivery fetched an average price of $135.16/cwt at the weekly online Fed Cattle Exchange auction, according to the auction website. That’s down from $138.72/cwt a week ago.

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

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