U.S. livestock: CME live cattle end mixed after choppy session

(Canada Beef Inc. photo)

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle settled mixed on Wednesday, supported by October future’s discount to last week’s cash prices but pressured by profit-taking, traders said.

October closed at 159.7 cents per pound, up 0.025 cent, and December down 0.175 cent to 162.1 cents (all figures US$).

Last week, market-ready, or cash, cattle in the U.S. Plains moved at mostly $163 per hundredweight (cwt).

Futures struggled to find direction as market participants awaited this week’s cash cattle trade.

More cattle are available after packers bought fewer of them last week due to higher prices. And some processors cut back slaughters to conserve margins and lift wholesale beef values.

Wednesday morning’s choice wholesale beef price gained 40 cents/cwt from Tuesday to $251.48. Select slipped six cents to $238.62, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

Beef packer margins for Wednesday were a positive $10.25 per head, compared with a positive $39.25 on Tuesday and a positive $27.80 a week ago, according to Colorado-based analytics firm Hedgersedge.com.

Conversely, a few processors remain short on supplies which might underpin cattle returns, feedlot sources said.

Funds trading in CME’s live cattle and hog markets periodically shifted October long positions into months further back in a procedure known as the “roll” by followers of the Standard + Poor’s Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (S+PGSCI).

Wednesday was the third of five days for the S+PGSCI roll process.

CME feeder cattle closed mostly lower on profit-taking after spiking to a record high driven by live cattle market buying.

The September contract drew support from this week’s feeder cattle price strength in local markets.

September closed up 0.225 cents, at 228.85 cents. October ended 0.625 cent lower at 227.125 cents, and November 0.775 cent lower at 225.475 cents.

Hogs settle higher

CME hogs closed in positive territory, helped by cash and wholesale pork price advances, traders said.

October closed 1.325 cents/lb. higher at 107.1 cents, and December up 0.4 cent at 98.65 cents.

The morning’s wholesale pork price climbed $1.32/cwt from Tuesday to $106.60, USDA said.

Separate government data showed the morning’s average hog price in Iowa/Minnesota up 27 cents/cwt from Tuesday to $101.49.

Tight supplies forced packers to hike bids for hogs while topping off inventories for the rest of this week’s production, traders said.

Some retailers are already booking product in perpetration for National Pork Month in October, they said.

Positive market fundamentals generated bull spreads, in which traders bought the October contract and simultaneously sold back months.

Despite CME hogs’ gains on Wednesday, traders are nervous about the October contract’s premium to CME’s hog index at 97.79 cents.

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

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