U.S. livestock: Feeder cattle rally on corn futures slump

CME September 2019 feeder cattle with Bollinger (20,2) bands. (Barchart)

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) feeder cattle futures continued to rally on Wednesday, as corn futures fell sharply and traders hoped that feed costs will continue to remain under pressure.

The burgeoning U.S.-Mexico trade fight pressured Chicago Board of Trade corn futures, despite a Reuters report that corn has been excluded from Mexico’s official list of U.S. products that could be subject to retaliatory tariffs if across-the-board duties threatened by the Trump administration take effect.

But the corn-fueled rally was not as robust as much of the trade had hoped for, said Ted Seifried, chief agricultural market strategist with Zaner Group.

“I’m going to be closely watching the export numbers from USDA this week, particularly export sales of hogs to China,” Seifried said.

Lean hog futures also rose on Wednesday, and traders said they are factoring a pricing premium into deferred month contracts due to the impact of the African swine fever virus on the Chinese hog herd.

And for a second trading session, livestock futures continued to see bullish support on forecasts of warming temperatures across the U.S. in the coming days, which is expected to bolster consumer demand for meat as the grilling season takes off, traders said.

Still, traders say they are closely watching how Mexico will retaliate against U.S. President Donald Trump’s threats to levy duties on all Mexican imports unless it curbs illegal immigration, adding to global growth worries.

Mexico is the biggest importer of U.S. pork and the third biggest importer of U.S. beef.

August feeder cattle finished Tuesday up 2.2 cents at 139.45 cents/lb. and September feeders settled up 1.85 cents, to 139.7 cents.

June live cattle settled up 0.45 cent to 107.85 cents/lb., and most actively traded August closed up 0.775 cent to 104.675 cents.

CME June lean hogs closed down 1.25 cents at 79.85 cents/lb. — continuing to narrow the gap between the cash and futures markets — while most actively traded July hogs ended up 0.425 cent at 86.275 cents.

— Reporting for Reuters by P.J. Huffstutter in Chicago.

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