U.S. livestock: CME live cattle end mixed, hogs weaker

(Photo courtesy Canada Beef Inc.)

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures finished mixed on Wednesday stirred by profit-taking and positioning before the sale of cash cattle as early as Thursday, traders said.

Spot October closed 0.275 cent/lb. lower at 139.975, and December down 0.025 cent to 143.15 (all figures US$). February and April closed up 0.275 cent to 144.3 and 143.175 cents, respectively.

On Wednesday, market-ready, or cash, cattle bids surfaced in Texas at $137/cwt against $140-$142 asking prices there and in Kansas, feedlot sources said. Last week, cash cattle in the U.S. Plains sold at $134-$137.

Packers will likely pay more for supplies than last week due to pre-booked retail orders for meat to feature beginning in November, traders and analysts said.

Wednesday morning’s wholesale choice beef price climbed $1.82/cwt from Tuesday, to $217.20. Select cuts were up 16 cents, to $210.52, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

Packers will avoid paying more than they have to for cattle after sharply higher prices over the past two weeks cut their margins.

USDA will issue the monthly cold storage report on Thursday at 2 p.m. CT, which will include September beef and pork inventories.

A few analysts, on average, estimated last month’s cold storage total beef stocks at 486.9 million lbs., and pork at 683.8 million lbs.

CME feeder cattle futures mimicked the mixed live cattle market.

October feeder cattle ended down 0.625 cent/lb. to 194.25 cents, and November 1.025 cents, to 191.425 cents. January finished 0.4 cent higher at 184.775 cents and March up 0.175 cent, to 180.95.

Profit-taking and uneasiness about near-term market fundamentals weighed on CME lean hogs, traders said.

December finished 0.825 cents/lb. lower at 67.025 cents, and February down 0.15 cent, to 68.7 cents.

Investors were surprised that wholesale pork prices had not increased as much as anticipated, given the shortage of product after at least one major packing plant shutdown for repairs on Tuesday.

Grocers have most of the product they need to finish out October Pork Month, with additional tonnage ahead as supplies build seasonally, a trader said.

Wednesday morning’s wholesale pork price was at $88.94/cwt, up 39 cents from Tuesday, USDA said.

The morning’s cash hog prices in the Midwest were steady with Tuesday’s sales, regional hog dealers said.

Theopolis Waters reports on livestock markets for Reuters from Chicago.

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