U.S. livestock: CME live cattle resume downtrend, but off lows

(CMEGroup.com)

Chicago | Reuters –– Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle closed lower on Tuesday after skittish buyers and fund liquidation wiped out Friday’s modest gains that briefly halted an eight-day losing skid, traders said.

February live cattle closed down 1.4 cents per pound, to 153.05 cents, and April ended 1.875 cents lower at 151.075 cents (all figures US$).

“People are scared to death about the market, because there’s not a lot right now that make them want to buy it,” a trader said.

Grocers periodically balked at near record-high beef prices while packers resisted spending more for cattle based on futures’ recent fund-led selloff.

Tuesday morning’s choice wholesale beef rose 87 cents per hundredweight (cwt) from Monday to $260.29. Select jumped $2, to $251.85, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

Last week, cash cattle in the U.S. Plains moved at $162-$164.50/cwt, down from $168 to $172 the previous week, feedlot sources said.

Still, bargain hunting and futures’ discounts to cash prices lifted contracts from session lows.

CME feeder cattle finished mostly lower, with back months pressured by live cattle futures losses and as much as $15/cwt lower cash feeder cattle prices.

January futures, which will expire on Jan. 29, drew support from its discount to the exchanges feeder cattle index for Jan. 15 at 226.39 cents.

January closed 0.375 cents per lb higher at 214.475 cents, March at 202.475 cents, down 2.375 cents and April finished 2.35 cents lower at 204.1 cents.

Hogs extend losses

CME lean hogs sagged to a two-year low for a second consecutive session, pressured by deteriorating cash prices and spillover live cattle market pressure, traders said.

February closed 2.725 cents/lb. lower at 71.775 cents, and April ended down its three-cent price limit at 74.675 cents.

USDA data showed Tuesday morning’s average price of cash hogs in the western Midwest had dropped $1.45/cwt from Monday, to $69.21.

Hog prices tend to rebound this time of year, but that has not been the case so far after recent wintry weather in the Midwest backed hogs up on farms, traders and analysts said.

Wholesale pork prices have fluctuated as grocers buy product hand-to-mouth to accommodate near-term meat advertisements amid ample supplies, a trader said.

The morning’s wholesale pork price was down 62 cents/cwt from Monday at $83.91, the USDA said.

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

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