Report positioning extends U.S. hog futures gains

Chicago Mercantile Exchange hog futures on Wednesday gained for a third day in row as investors adjusted positions ahead of the U.S. Department of Agriculture quarterly hogs report on Friday, traders said.

Analysts looked for the report to show that while spread of the deadly porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv) led to a near-term shortage of hogs, their numbers are expected to grow longer term given cheaper feed.

October futures’ discount to the CME’s hog index, which was at 98.05 cents, encouraged buyers (all figures US$).

October hogs finished 1.2 cents per pound higher at 93.7 cents. It hit a new contract high of 93.75 cents in after-hours trading.

December closed at 88.6 cents, up 0.525 cents after spiking to a fresh contract high of 89 cents.

Uncertainty regarding cash hog prices and weaker wholesale pork values stirred profit taking that pulled futures from morning highs, traders said.

USDA’s Wednesday morning Midwest direct market hog prices were unavailable.

Separate U.S. government data showed the wholesale pork price, or cutout, Wednesday morning at $99.29 per hundredweight (cwt), down 85 cents from Tuesday.

Spread traders sold deep-deferred contracts and bought nearby months in anticipation of increased hog production as feed becomes more affordable.

Cattle up with cash hopes

Steady-to-higher cash expectations landed CME live cattle futures in positive territory for a sixth straight session, analysts and traders said.

They said investors bought far-month live cattle contracts in anticipation of tighter supplies during that period.

Profit-taking and the belief that futures are too pricey based on last week’s cash cattle returns at times pressured futures.

October closed up 0.225 cent/lb. to 127.55 cents. December finished at 131.275 cents, up 0.05 cent.

Futures’ recent win streak may prompt packers to pay up for supplies, despite their unprofitable margins and lukewarm beef demand, a trader said.

Cash cattle bids in Texas and Kansas surfaced at $123/cwt with no response from sellers, feedlot sources said. Last week, cash cattle moved at $124 in Texas and Kansas and at $125 in Nebraska.

USDA data on Wednesday morning showed the wholesale choice beef price, or cutout, at $193.32/cwt, down 45 cents from Tuesday. Select cuts gained 32 cents to $177.37.

Estimated margins for U.S. beef packers on Wednesday were a negative $3.70 per head, compared with a negative $1.40 on Tuesday and a negative $3.20 a week ago, according to HedgersEdge.com.

The September feeder cattle contract closed 0.725 cent higher at 158.675 cents, supported by steady to $2/cwt higher cash feeder cattle prices in local markets.

Profit-taking and firmer corn prices undercut remaining feeder cattle contracts. Expensive feed can increase input costs for feedlot operators.

October ended 0.85 cent/lb. lower at 162.925 cents while November settled 0.7 cent lower at 164.05 cents.

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

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