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U.S. livestock: CME live cattle futures extend losses

(Photo courtesy Canada Beef Inc.)

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures ended lower for a second day in a row on Tuesday, pressured by more profit-taking ahead of potentially steady to weaker cash prices by Friday, said traders.

December live cattle closed down 0.375 cent/lb. to 108.925 cents, and February ended 0.725 cent lower at 110.3 cents (all figures US$).

Futures’ recent pullback, slipping packer profits and roughly 12,000 more cattle for sale than last week may weigh on cash prices, said traders and analysts.

Last week, slaughter-ready, or cash, cattle in the U.S. Plains moved at mostly $110-$113/cwt.

Futures retreated despite the three-session run up in prices for wholesale beef that is seen is an alternative to ham and turkey during the winter holidays.

Tuesday morning’s choice wholesale beef price, or cutout, jumped $2.16/cwt from Monday to $190.16. Select cuts rose 62 cents, to $173.37, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

The higher cutout price lifted futures from morning lows, but the futures market appears to be overbought, said Oak Investment Group President Joe Ocrant. “In the back of my mind I’m being real cautious.”

CME feeder cattle gained modestly on short-covering, lower corn prices and higher cash feeder cattle returns. January feeders ended up 0.175 cent, to 126.975 cents.

Lower hog futures close

CME lean hogs finished lower following Tuesday morning’s wholesale pork price retreat that threatens cash values, said traders.

They said sell stops and fund liquidation contributed to market losses.

December closed down 0.075 cent/lb., to 50.35 cents. Most actively-traded February ended 1.125 cents/lb. lower at 54.7 cents, and below the 10-day moving average of 55.05 cents.

The morning wholesale pork price, or cutout, had slumped $1.51/cwt from Monday to $73.30, after the more than $5 ham price drop, the USDA said.

Tuesday morning’s cash hog prices around the U.S. Midwest were mostly 50 cents/cwt higher, according to regional hog merchants.

“Packers, overall, have done a good job selling product. So as long as that stays okay cash prices will be alright,” a Midwest hog dealer said.

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

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