U.S. livestock: CME hogs end mostly higher on bargain buying, cattle drift lower

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Chicago | Reuters – Lean hog futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange closed mostly higher on Wednesday as bargain-buying and firmer wholesale pork prices helped the benchmark October contract rebound from a one-month low set a day earlier.

CME October lean hogs settled up 1.975 cents at 85.850 cents per pound and December hogs rose 1.375 cents to end at 78.900 cents.

“There’s obviously some technical short-covering here after some substantial loss in premiums the last couple days,” said Doug Houghton, analyst with Brock Capital Management. Fund-driven long liquidation had pressured futures in recent days.

Stronger wholesale pork prices lent support. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) quoted the pork cutout on Wednesday afternoon at $123.96 per hundredweight (cwt), up $1.56 from the previous day.

October hog futures also drew support from an unusually large discount to cash prices, a sign that futures may be under-priced. The CME’s lean hog index, a two-day weighted average of cash prices, was at $110.77 per cwt, or about 111 cents a pound, compared to October futures below 86 cents a pound.

On the cattle side, CME live cattle futures closed mostly lower, retreating from Tuesday’s gains, as brokers awaited movement in the cash cattle market.

Most-active October live cattle settled down 0.550 cent at 127.575 cents per pound, while deferred months, including the April and June contracts, firmed on expectations for U.S. cattle supplies to tighten in the coming months.

CME September feeder cattle futures fell 0.225 cent to close at 162.825 cents per pound.

Robust wholesale beef prices and rising packer profit margins continue to underpin cattle futures. Wholesale beef prices extended a three-week climb on Wednesday, with choice cuts up $5.48 at $310.80 per cwt, the highest since June 23.

But elevated corn prices hung over the markets, signaling rising costs for livestock feed. Chicago Board of Trade December corn futures hit a one-week high of $5.61-3/4 a bushel before paring gains.

Traders await market direction from several key USDA reports due Thursday, including weekly export sales data, and a monthly supply/demand report in which analysts expect the government to lower its estimates of U.S. 2021 corn and soybean production.

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