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U.S. livestock: Short covering lifts CME live cattle

Feeder cattle hit one-month high, hogs end sharply lower

(Photo courtesy Canada Beef Inc.)

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle contracts closed higher on Friday, aided by short covering and futures’ discounts to this week’s better-than-expected cash prices, said traders.

CME livestock market funds that follow the Standard + Poor’s Goldman Sachs Commodity Index sold, or “rolled,” August futures and simultaneously bought October on the fifth and final day of the Goldman Roll process.

August ended up 0.375 cent per pound at 117.8 cents, and October was 0.75 cent higher at 118.575 cents (all figures US$).

This week the bulk of market-ready, or cash, cattle in the U.S. Plains traded from $118-$120/cwt, as much as $3 higher than last week, said feedlot sources.

Traders reacted to higher cash prices, which was surprising for this time of year given the seasonal decline in wholesale beef values, said CME livestock futures trader Dan Norcini.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s daily price, or cutout, for choice wholesale beef cuts had fallen to $209.35/cwt on Friday afternoon from $251.03 a month earlier.

Consumers hold fewer cookouts during periods of extremely hot weather, and retailers tend to feature less meat for grilling after the U.S. Memorial Day holiday, said analysts and traders.

This week’s combination of higher cash returns and eroding wholesale beef prices wore down profits for packers, likely making them think twice about paying up for cattle next week, a trader said.

Buy-stops and live cattle futures gains boosted CME’s feeder cattle contract to a one-month high.

August feeders ended 1.25 cents/lb. higher at 154.275 cents.

Hog futures fall

Fund liquidation and lower cash prices amid ample supplies undercut CME lean hogs, said traders.

The roll by funds further pressured August futures and slowed the October contract’s decline.

July, which will expire on Monday, ended down 0.15 cent/lb. at 92.6 cents.

Most-actively traded August finished 2.625 cents lower at 79.9 cents, and below the 40-day moving average of 80.996 cents. October ended 2.15 cents lower at 67.175 cents, and below the 100-day moving average of 67.356 cents.

Despite futures’ bullish discounts to current cash prices, packers anticipate having more hogs at their disposal to accommodate two new processing plants that are slated to open in September, a trader said.

Any delay in those facilities coming online, at a time of increased supplies, will create major headaches for farmers and cash prices, he added.

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

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