CME live cattle futures firm with beef demand

May 22 (Reuters) – Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures gained Thursday, supported by improving demand for beef as retailers gear up for post-Memorial Day outdoor cookouts, traders said.

* Wednesday afternoon’s wholesale choice beef price rose 93 cents per hundredweight (cwt) from Tuesday to $231.16. Select cuts climbed $1.06 to $220.09, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

* Futures’ discount to last week cash cattle prices encouraged further buying.

* Thursday’s USDA export data for the week ended May 15 showed U.S. beef sales at 12,100 tonnes, mostly to Japan, compared with 12,700 tonnes the week before.

* The government will issue the monthly cold storage report today at 2 p.m. CDT (1900 GMT). The data will include April total beef and pork inventories.

* At 8:35 a.m. CDT (1335 GMT), June was up 0.150 cent per lb at 138.425 cents, and August gained 0.275 cent to 139.875 cents.

* Investors await this week’s prices for market-ready, or cash, cattle with packers needing fewer animals due to plant closures on Monday’s holiday.

* Processors are avoiding spending more for cattle in anticipation of a seasonal surge in supplies.

* Last week, cash cattle in Texas and Kansas, on average, moved at $145 per hundredweight (cwt), and $148 in Nebraska.

* FEEDER CATTLE – May, which will expire at noon CDT (1900 GMT), slipped 0.200 cent per lb to 189.000 cents. August was up 0.025 cent to 196.550 cents.

* CME May feeder cattle is guided by its proximity to the exchange’s feeder cattle index, which is at 187.83 cents.

* August futures drew support from CME live cattle market advances.

* LEAN HOGS – June was 0.750 cents per lb lower at 119.175 cents, and July dropped 0.375 cent at 126.450 cents.

* CME hogs drew pressure from Wednesday’s pullback in cash hog and wholesale pork prices, traders said.

* Late-Wednesday’s average hog price in the Iowa/Minnesota market fell $1.57 per cwt from Tuesday to $109.64, according to the USDA.

* Separate government data showed Wednesday’s wholesale pork values slid $1.79 per cwt from Tuesday to $114.92 cents.

* Packers have all the hogs they need after cutting slaughters to offset supply losses from the deadly Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus.

* Scheduled plant closings for Monday’s Memorial Day holiday will limit packer needs for supplies.

* Grocers are buying pork hand-to-mouth until they determine how much product moved over the holiday, a trader said

* Futures’ premium to CME’s hog index, at 111.68 cents, discouraged buyers.

* USDA’s export data showed U.S. pork sales at 11,600 tonnes, mostly to Mexico, compared with 8,000 tonnes the week before. (Reporting by Theopolis Waters in Chicago Editing by W Simon)

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