U.S. livestock: CME live cattle futures mixed

(Photo courtesy Canada Beef Inc.)

Chicago | Reuters –– Chicago Mercantile Exchange front-month live cattle closed higher on Wednesday, supported by the anticipation of steady to higher cash trade later this week, traders said.

April closed 0.5 cents per pound higher at 161.825 cents and June closed 0.05 cent lower at 152.275 cents (all figures US$).

Last week, cash cattle traded $2 higher at $165 to $166 per hundredweight (cwt) in the U.S. Plains.

“In the cash market, the show list size hasn’t changed and packers still want to buy supplies,” said KIS Futures vice-president Lane Broadbent.

The live cattle back months edged lower in rangebound trading in the first trading session of the new quarter.

“This market will change if we see buyers purchasing pork instead of beef, since pork products are at such a sharp discount to beef,” Broadbent said.

Weekly slaughter volume was expected to be lower due to a handful of plants being closed on Friday and next Monday for the Easter holiday weekend, traders said.

Wednesday morning’s choice wholesale beef price rose $1.67/cwt from Tuesday to $255.80. Select cuts rose $1.97/cwt to $250.61, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

CME feeder cattle were narrowly mixed as front month April followed CME April live cattle futures higher, while the back months edged lower likely in the wake of higher CBOT corn prices.

April closed 0.5 cent/lb. higher at 218.625 cents. May closed 0.25 cent/lb. lower at 216.65 and August was 0.35 lower at 217.925 cents.

Funds support hogs

CME lean hogs finished higher on short-covering and fund buying, traders said.

Front-month April ended at its highest since March. 11.

“You’re seeing some macro money flow into the commodities today which might have helped the hogs because they’ve been beat up over the past month,” said Domenic Varricchio, commodities broker at Schwierterman, Inc.

April closed 1.125 cents/lb. higher at 62.425 cents, and May ended 0.525 cent higher at 68.725 cents.

In the cash market, ample hog supplies kept packers from being aggressive buyers. A few plants will be closed for the Easter weekend, affecting slaughter on Friday and Monday.

Separate government data showed Wednesday morning’s wholesale pork price slipped $1.13/cwt from Tuesday to $64.23, USDA said.

Meredith Davis reports on livestock markets for Reuters from Chicago.

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