U.S. livestock: Improved fundamentals extend CME hogs’ advances

(Regis Lefebure photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Chicago | Reuters –– Chicago Mercantile Exchange lean hogs gained for a second straight session on Thursday, helped by firmer cash and wholesale pork prices, traders said.

April futures closed up 2.825 cents per pound at 67.05 cents, and May 2.325 cents higher at 76.725 cents (all figures US$).

Thursday morning’s average market-ready (cash) hog price in Iowa/Minnesota was up 52 cents per hundredweight (cwt) from Wednesday to $57.71, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

Separate USDA data showed the morning’s wholesale pork price had risen 39 cents/cwt from Wednesday, to $72.83.

Packers hiked cash bids to encourage farmers to open doors to swine barns that are closed to ward off brutally cold temperatures across the U.S. Midwest.

Some grocers bought pork amid a temporary reduction in available supplies, traders.

Fund buying developed after April and May topped their respective 10-day moving averages of 65.85 cents and 75.37 cents.

Some investors may take profits on Friday with the view that cash prices may again come down after farms resume normal hog deliveries as temperature moderate.

Traders await Friday’s government monthly cold storage report that is expected to show West Coast port congestion impact on January freezer stocks.

Cattle markets slump

CME live cattle futures turned lower on profit-taking amid uncertainty about this week’s cash prices, traders said.

February closed down 0.25 cent, to 158.925 cents, and April 1.125 cent lower at 151.5 cents.

Cash cattle bids in Kansas and Texas were at $160/cwt versus $164-$165 asking prices, feedlot sources said. Last week, cash cattle fetched $160-$162.50.

Seasonally tight supplies that lifted wholesale beef prices are supportive cash price factors.

Thursday morning’s choice wholesale beef price rose 59 cents/cwt to $240.37 from Wednesday. Select cuts climbed 98 cents, to $236.83, based on USDA data.

Deeply red packer margins, more cattle for sale this week and the onset of Lent are pressuring cash price influences.

People are afraid that there is a lot of meat available, with weather issues in the Eastern states hurting demand, said Wagnon Commodities owner Lynn Wagnon.

USDA will issue the monthly Cattle-On-Feed report on Friday.

Firmer corn futures and the weaker CME live cattle market undercut feeder cattle contracts.

March closed 0.55 cent/lb. lower at 202.55 cents, and April down 0.5 cent, to 201.575 cents.

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

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