U.S. livestock: CME hogs finish higher

(Regis Lefebure photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange lean hog futures gained for a second straight day on Tuesday in a quiet session, with help from short-covering and technical buying, traders said.

April closed up 0.325 cent/lb., to 70.25 cents (all figures US$).

May ended 0.575 cent higher at 78.85 cents and June finished up 0.475 cent, to 82.925 cents. Both contracts broke through their respective 10-day moving averages of 78.28 and 82.84 cents.

Deferred months led advances after traders bought them and at the same time sold April ahead of its expiration on April 14.

Investors squared positions before the end of the quarter on Thursday while awaiting clear fundamental market direction.

“There was a lack of news. And from what I’ve been told, not a lot of people want to do anything with the hog market right now,” a trader said.

The morning wholesale pork price on Tuesday was up 15 cents/cwt from Monday, to $76.45, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Market-ready, or cash, hogs in the U.S. Midwest on Tuesday morning traded mixed, according to regional hog dealers.

Live cattle close flat/weak

CME live cattle finished flat to down slightly after traders sold April futures and bought deferred months ahead of cash cattle sales later this week, traders said.

April live cattle ended 0.25 cent/lb. lower at 134.85 cents, June finished unchanged at 125.525 cents and August closed down 0.025 cent to 121.325 cents.

Last week, most market-ready, or cash, cattle in the U.S. Plains sold at $136/cwt.

Investors expected packers to curb cash spending based on their negative profit margins, current futures prices and uncertain near-term wholesale beef demand.

The morning’s wholesale choice beef price was up $1.17/cwt from Monday, to $226.45. Select cuts dropped 30 cents, to $217.33, USDA said.

HedgersEdge.com estimated the average beef packer margin on Tuesday was a negative $16.40 per head, up from a negative $34.55 on Monday and down from a positive $36.10 a week ago.

CME April feeder cattle was supported by its discount to the exchange’s feeder cattle index for March 28 at 158.08 cents.

Firm corn prices and soft back-month live cattle futures weighed on remaining feeder cattle contracts.

April closed 0.5 cent/lb. higher at 156.075 cents. May ended down 0.075 cent to 154.775 cents and August finished down 0.025 cent to 154.7.

Theopolis Waters reports on livestock markets for Reuters from Chicago.

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