U.S. livestock: CME live cattle gain for fourth straight session

Chicago | Reuters –– Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle on Monday rose for a fourth consecutive session, with strength from buy stops and futures’ discounts to last week’s cash prices, said traders.

They said profit-taking and caution ahead of this week’s cash returns pulled contracts from session highs.

Monday was the final day in which CME livestock market funds that follow the Standard + Poor’s Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (SPGSCI) rolled their April long positions mostly into June.

April live cattle closed up 0.15 cent/lb., to 117.75 cents, and June was 0.6 cent higher at 108.1 cents (all figures US$).

Last week slaughter-ready, or cash, cattle in the U.S. Plains brought $121 to $127/cwt, compared to mostly $124 to $126 a week ago.

Some packers paid more for cattle last week given their extremely profitable margins and solid wholesale beef demand, said analysts and traders.

They said some investors considered wintry weather in parts of the upper U.S. Plains supportive for cash and wholesale beef prices this week because of potential disruptions to livestock production.

Still, one analyst pointed out that heavy snow aiming for the densely populated northeastern region of the country might hurt meat demand there.

Monday afternoon’s choice wholesale beef price was up 72 cents/cwt to $220.55 from Friday. Select cuts rose $1.34, to $212.33, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

Monday’s average beef packer margins were a positive $121.40 per head, up from a positive $91 on Friday, as calculated by HedgersEdge.com.

Hogs finish sharply higher

Monday morning’s firmer cash and wholesale pork prices sent CME lean hogs up sharply, said traders.

They said technical buying furthered market advances.

April hogs ended 2.05 cents/lb. higher at 70.225 cents, and above the 40-day moving average of 69.111 cents. May closed up 1.85 cents to 74.75 cents, and above the 20-day and 40-day moving average convergence of 74.115 cents.

Monday afternoon’s average cash hog price in Iowa/Minnesota was $68.05/cwt, $1.04 higher than on Friday, USDA said.

Separate U.S. government data on Monday afternoon showed the average wholesale pork price up 48 cents/cwt to $82.36 from Friday.

Some traders said a potential hog production slowdown resulting from blizzard conditions in parts of the Midwest drove up cash prices, which in turn boosted futures.

But Rich Nelson, chief strategist with Allendale Inc., said talk about the snowstorm’s impact on hog futures may have been overdone.

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

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