U.S. livestock: Cattle mostly firm on short covering

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures were mostly higher on Friday, lifted by end-of-week short covering following a decline to nine-month lows a day earlier, traders said.

Futures, however, remain anchored by plentiful supplies of market-ready cattle and weak cash markets as fed cattle in the U.S. Plains this week traded about $1 to $2/cwt lower than a week ago at around $105/cwt.

“It still looks like we have a few weeks of pressure left in front of us in September with rising cattle numbers seasonally,” said Rich Nelson, chief strategist with Allendale Inc.

“Next week we will have a push of higher (cattle) numbers available for packers to buy. I think this market is bracing for this next round of lower prices,” he said.

The most-active CME October live cattle contract was the only lower contract, settling down 0.25 cent at 105.15 cents/lb. Deferred contracts were 0.3 to 0.775 cent higher.

Feeder cattle futures also edged up, following gains in live cattle and as corn futures resumed a recent decline that could lower costs for fattening cattle.

Most-active CME October feeders closed 0.25 cent higher at 143.55 cents/lb. while November ended up 0.275 cent at 143.95 cents.

Lean hog futures settled mostly higher, underpinned by expectations for a seasonal increase in packer demand as they fill orders this month for National Pork Month features in October.

Front-month October hog futures finished 0.05 cent higher at 61.45 cents/lb. and December hogs up 0.025 cent to 58.05 cents.

Markets will be closed on Monday for the Labour Day holiday.

— Karl Plume reports on agriculture and agribusiness for Reuters from Chicago.

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