U.S. livestock: Cattle futures end lower ahead of weekend

CME lean hogs mostly up

CME August 2020 live cattle with 20-, 50- and 100-day moving averages. (Barchart)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. live cattle futures retreated on Friday in a profit-taking and technical selling setback ahead of the weekend amid weakening beef prices and concerns about lower-than-normal summer demand as much of the economy remains partially closed.

Lean hog futures clawed back earlier losses to end mostly higher as an early drop to one-month lows triggered short covering and bargain buying.

However, livestock markets, particularly lean hogs, remained on edge about worsening U.S.-China tensions after back-and-forth threats this week over the security status of Hong Kong.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday he was ordering his administration to begin the process of eliminating special treatment for Hong Kong to punish China for its plans to impose new security legislation there.

The announcement came amid rising concern that China may reduce its imports of U.S. agricultural products despite vows in a Phase One trade deal signed in January to sharply increase purchases.

China, the world’s largest hog and pork market, has bought record volumes of U.S. pork since late last year, although sales have slowed in recent weeks.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday said net pork sales to China in the week ended May 21 totaled 6,075 tonnes. After averaging more than 23,000 tonnes in weekly sales to China since early March, net sales through the first three weeks of May were a net negative 417 tonnes, USDA data showed.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) June lean hogs ended 0.075 cent lower at 56.85 cents/lb. while most-active July futures were up 1.375 cents at 57.025 cents/lb. (all figures US$).

June live cattle dropped 1.75 cents to 99.725 cents/lb., while actively traded August fell 1.575 cents to 99.6 cents/lb.

Feeder cattle futures largely followed live cattle lower, with benchmark August down 0.15 cent at 135.35 cents/lb.

— Karl Plume reports on agriculture and ag commodities for Reuters from Chicago.

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