May 16 (Reuters) – Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle turned moderately higher in choppy trading on Friday, supported by short-covering, traders said.
* They said futures are at a discount, or underpriced, to prices for market-ready or cash cattle which encouraged buyers.
* Investors adjusted positions before Friday’s U.S. Department of Agriculture monthly Cattle-On-Feed report.
* Analysts expect the data to show cattle placements last month declined from April 2013 after several years of drought in parts of the United States reduced the herd to a 63-year low.
* USDA data late on Thursday showed the price of beef at retail in April hit a record-high $5.87 per lb, surpassing the previous record of $5.72 the month before and up $5.22 a year ago.
* At 8:40 a.m. CDT (1340 GMT), June was up 0.150 cent per lb at 137.550 cents, and August gained 0.100 cent to 137.925 cents.
* On Thursday, cash cattle in Texas moved at $144.50 per hundredweight (cwt), compared to $146 a week ago, said feedlot sources. They reported Nebraska cash cattle sales of $147.50, versus a high of $150 last week.
* Packers are resisting spending more for cattle while trying to recoup lost margins and drive up wholesale beef costs, traders said.
* Processors are having difficulty moving meat as unusually wet weather and late Easter holiday delayed the start of the spring grilling period, they said.
* FEEDER CATTLE – May was at 186.325 cents, down 0.050 cent per lb. August was at 192.350 cents, down 0.075 cent.
* CME feeder cattle felt pressure from profit-taking and periodic live cattle futures weakness.
* LEAN HOGS – June was 0.125 cent weaker at 119.300 cents, and July slipped 0.275 cent at 125.075 cents.
* CME hog futures were weighed down by their price premiums to the exchange’s hog index at 112.91 cents, traders said.
* Thursday firm cash hog and wholesale pork price limited futures’ losses on Friday, they said.
* Still, cash hogs in the Midwest on Friday traded steady to down 50 cents per cwt, according to dealers.
* They said packers have supply needs met into early next week.
* Several plants are offline today in an ongoing effort to offset supplies tightened by the spread of the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv).
* Bargain hunting in anticipation of fewer hogs this summer pegged to PEDv landed corresponding contracts in positive territory.
* Thursday’s government retail meat price data showed pork last month at a record-high $3.95 per lb, topping the $3.83 March record and up from $3.51 last year. (Reporting by Theopolis Waters in Chicago; Additional reporting by Meredith Davis; Editing by Bernadette Baum)