U.S. livestock: CME live cattle buckle under technical pressure

(Photo courtesy Canada Beef Inc.)

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures closed lower on Tuesday, hit by profit-taking and technical selling, said traders and analysts.

They said some funds sold August futures and simultaneously bought the October contract.

Positioning in advance of the U.S. Department of Agriculture monthly Cattle on Feed report on Friday exerted more market pressure.

August ended 1.875 cents/lb. lower at 115.075 cents and below the 20-day moving average of 115.769 cents (all figures US$). October closed 1.75 cents lower at 116.875 cents.

Investors are anxiously awaiting this week’s sale of market-ready, or cash, cattle that a week ago brought mostly $118-$121.50/cwt.

Packers may need cattle for near-term delivery and supplies appear to be current, or coming to market on schedule and not backing in feedlots, said CHS Hedging broker Tim Hofer.

Processors might balk at paying more than they have to for cattle given their declining but still profitable margins — partly because of seasonally eroding wholesale beef values.

Wednesday morning’s Fed Cattle Exchange sale of roughly 2,900 animals could set the tone for this week’s cash prices. Animals there last week brought $117.25-$118.75/cwt.

CME feeder cattle contracts sank more than two per cent on profit-taking, sell stops and live cattle futures’ selloff.

August feeders ended 2.825 cents/lb. lower, or down 2.02 per cent, at 151.6 cents.

Front hog months end weaker

Softer cash and wholesale pork prices weakened nearby CME lean hog futures, said traders.

They said investors sold August futures and at the same time bought 2018 contracts with the view that new plants coming on line next year will accommodate increased supplies.

August closed down 0.275 cent/lb. to 80.5 cents, and October down 0.175 cent to 67.875 cents.

Ample near-term supplies weighed on cash prices, and wholesale pork values tend to peak this time of year as meat consumption wanes during sultry summer weather, analysts and traders said.

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

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