U.S. livestock: CME lean hogs up again on cash, pork prices

(Scott Bauer photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Chicago | Reuters –– Chicago Mercantile Exchange lean hog contracts closed higher for a second consecutive session on Monday, buoyed by stronger cash and wholesale pork prices, traders said.

October ended 2.5 cents/lb. higher at 62.5 cents and December finished up 2.075 cents to 57.025 (all figures US$).

Cash hog prices in the U.S. Midwest on Monday morning were mostly 50 cents to $1/cwt higher, according to regional hog dealers.

Monday morning’s wholesale pork price surged $3.27/cwt from Friday to $78.03, sparked by almost $16/cwt higher pork belly prices, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

Futures’ sizeable discounts to the CME hog index for Aug. 11 at 67.57 cents attracted prospective bullish traders.

Given the big discount to the index, any indication that hog or pork demand is increasing at lower price levels stirred significant short-covering and fresh buying, said independent livestock futures trader Dan Norcini.

CME lean hogs gained further upward traction after October and December topped their respective 20-day moving averages of 60.76 and 56.1 cents.

Weaker live cattle close

Live cattle at the CME lost ground after investors periodically sold August futures and simultaneously bought deferred contracts, said traders.

Also, they said, some market participants sold live cattle contracts and at the same time purchased lean hog futures.

August live cattle ended down 0.4 cent/lb. at 115.925 cents, and October closed 0.55 cent lower at 113.975 cents.

Last week packers paid $118-$119/cwt for market-ready, or cash, cattle that a week earlier brought $117-$120.

The morning’s choice beef price climbed $1.01/cwt from Friday, to $202.20. Select cuts were up 66 cents, to $194.28, USDA said.

Overall meat demand is expected to improve over the next two weeks as supermarkets gear up to feature product during the Labour Day holiday, said traders and analysts.

They said packers have the wherewithal to pay more for cattle this week given their healthy profits.

Beef packer margins for Monday, on average, were a positive $27.95 per head, up from a positive $21.25 on Friday and a positive $13.25 a week ago, as calculated by HedgersEdge.com.

Profit-taking and firmer corn prices undercut CME feeder cattle futures. August feeders closed 0.425 cent/lb. lower at 148.65 cents.

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

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