U.S. livestock: Lower cash price outlook pulls down CME live cattle

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures ended lower on Tuesday in anticipation of a seasonal bump in supplies that could pressure prices for market-ready or cash cattle, traders said.

“It seemed like we delayed some bad news,” said EBOTTrading.com senior analyst John Kleist.

Stronger-than-usual beef clearance leading up to Father’s Day offset consumption of beef that typically fades this time of year, Kleist said.

Ranchers kept cattle out of feedlots longer, given better grazing pastures and cheaper corn, he said.

June and August futures’ spike to new contract highs and settlement below Monday’s lows, known as a key technical reversal, generated more selling, analysts and traders said.

Investors await the sale of market-ready, or cash, cattle against the backdrop of supportive wholesale beef prices and more animals up for sale this week.

Last week, cash cattle in Texas and Kansas moved at $148 per hundredweight (cwt) and mostly at $149 to $150 in Nebraska.

Reduced kills supported packer margins and beef cutout, a trader said. But there is talk some processors have all the cattle they need for the next two weeks, he said.

The afternoon’s wholesale choice beef price, or cutout, rose $2.56/cwt from Monday to $236.80. Select cuts jumped $3.16 to $229.27, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

June ended at 146.5 cents, down 0.95 cents, after hitting a contract high of 148.65 cents in electronic trading. August closed 0.725 cents lower at 145.725 and hit a fresh contract high of 147.75 cents.

CME feeder cattle set a new high on strong cash feeder cattle prices, before retreating on profit-taking and live cattle market losses.

August finished 0.85 cents per pound lower at 207.85 cents, and September dropped 0.925 cents at 208.575 cents.

Most hogs fall on fund liquidation

CME July hogs ended higher with cash prices, but fund selling pulled down remaining contracts, traders said.

Tuesday afternoon’s hog price in the Iowa/Minnesota market rose 62 cents/cwt from Monday to $118.07, USDA said.

Packers are topping off inventories for this week’s production, a trader said.

An ammonia leak forced evacuation Tuesday of Smithfield Foods’ Tar Heel, North Carolina, hog processing plant. It wasn’t yet known Tuesday afternoon when the plant, which has slaughter capacity for about 34,000 hogs per day, would resume operating.

Bullish traders took profits on months further back with the view heavy hogs and packing plant cutbacks will continue to offset supply shortages in the wake of the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDv).

Monday’s announcement of USDA approval of a vaccine in the fight against PEDv put bullish hog futures traders on the defensive, said Kleist. [Related story]

July ended 0.675 cent higher at 124.925. August closed 0.225 cent lower at 128.05 cents, and October at 108.4 cents, down 1.2 cents.

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

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