U.S. livestock: CME live cattle slump before USDA report

(Photo courtesy Canada Beef Inc.)

Chicago | Reuters –– Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle fell Friday on lower cash prices before the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s monthly Cattle-On-Feed report at 2 p.m. CT, traders said.

Analysts expect Friday’s report to show a sizable drop in the number of cattle placed into feedlots last month.

This week, market-ready (cash) cattle in Kansas moved at $160 per hundredweight (cwt), $2 lower than last week, feedlot sources said (all figures US$). Nebraska cash cattle sold at $158-$160, down as much as $4 from a week ago, they said.

CME live cattle losses discouraged packers from spending more for supplies, a feedlot source said.

Tom Tippens, an analyst with West Oak Commodities, said the futures market is faced with strong demand headwinds given extreme weather on the East Coast and the dock slowdowns on the West Coast.

Talks between dock workers and management continue, brokered by the U.S. labour secretary.

April and June futures fell below their respective 20-day moving average of 150.82 cents and 143.64 cents, which triggered fund liquidation.

February closed 2.225 cents per lower at 156.7 cents, and April 2.975 cents lower at 148.525 cents.

Technical selling and live cattle market losses pressured CME feeder cattle contracts. March closed 3.375 cents/lb. lower at 199.175 cents, and April down 3.225 cents, to 198.35 cents.

Hogs hold some gains

CME lean hogs finished moderately higher, helped by firm cash prices and initial rumours of an agreement to the West Coast port negotiations that were later denied, traders said.

April futures closed up 0.35 cent/lb., to 67.4 cents, and May 0.575 cent higher at 77.3 cents.

Friday morning’s average cash hog price in the western Midwest was up 32 cents/cwt from Thursday, to $59.46, the USDA said.

Weather-related supply shortages forced packers to spend more for hogs, a trader said. But investors took profits due to ongoing West Coast delays that are pressuring wholesale pork prices, he said.

Government data showed the morning’s wholesale pork price at $70.84/cwt, down $1.48 from Thursday.

USDA will also issue the monthly cold storage report at 2 p.m. CT, which could show effects of the West Coast port situation on the meat sector.

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

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