U.S. livestock: Live cattle climb seventh straight session

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle rose on Monday for the seventh consecutive session, boosted by improved wholesale beef demand and futures’ discounts to recent cash prices, traders said.

They said speculative buying and buy stops drove deferred contracts to fresh highs.

April live cattle closed 1.05 cents/lb. higher at 126.425 cents (all figures US$). June ended up 0.875 cent to 115.575 cents and hit a new high of 115.9 cents.

Last week slaughter-ready, or cash, cattle in the U.S. Plains brought mostly $128-$129/cwt, up from $124-$126 the week before.

Monday morning’s average wholesale beef price, or cutout, jumped $2.05/cwt to $214.13 from Friday. Select cuts rose $1.30, to $200.78, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

Tight supplies last week in parts of the U.S. Plain prompted packers to pay more for cattle and helped support beef cutout values, a trader said.

However, Allendale Inc. chief strategist Rich Nelson said last week’s bigger-than-anticipated cattle slaughter might modestly pressure wholesale beef prices soon.

Market participants await Wednesday’s sale of roughly 4,400 animals at the Fed Cattle exchange.

CME feeder cattle finished higher for sixth straight session, with back months also posting new highs, on live cattle futures buying and higher cash feeder cattle prices.

April feeder cattle closed 1.25 cents/lb. higher at 139.05 cents.

Lower hog market close

Lean hog futures at the CME were weakened by lower cash prices after packers filled near-term inventories well in advance of the Easter holiday, said traders.

Investors bought deferred contracts and sold May futures because of its sizable premium to current cash prices and the exchange’s hog index for April 13 at 63.19 cents.

April hogs, which expired at noon CT, settled 0.475 cent/lb. lower at 61.975 cents. May closed 0.575 cent lower at 67.725 cents. Most-actively traded June ended down 0.15 cent, to 72.35 cents.

Monday afternoon’s average cash hog price in Iowa/Minnesota, at $56.75/cwt, slipped 18 cents from Friday, USDA said.

Meanwhile, Easter-holiday plant closures, and retail meat buying for spring grilling, may help underpin wholesale pork values this week, said traders and analysts.

USDA estimated Monday hog slaughter at 300,000 head, 142,000 fewer than last week.

U.S. government data on Monday afternoon showed the average wholesale pork price up 38 cents/cwt from Friday to $74.96.

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

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