April 24 (Reuters) - Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle
futures gained modestly in volatile action on Thursday as
investors adjust positions before Friday's U.S. Department of
Agriculture monthly Cattle-On-Feed report, traders said.
* Analysts expect Friday's report to show the number of
cattle placed in feedyards in March increased 0.8 percent from a
year ago due to record-high prices for market-ready cattle.
* Live cattle futures' discount to last week's cash prices
stirred buying, while uncertainty about cash returns this week
* There were no deliveries reported by CME late on Wednesday
against the April live cattle contract that will expire on
* USDA's export data on Thursday for the week ended April 17
showed U.S. beef sales at 18,000 tonnes, mostly to Mexico,
compared to 21,900 tonnes the week prior.
* At 8:43 a.m. CDT (1343 GMT), April live cattle was
up 0.200 cent to 144.125 cents per lb. June rose 0.300
cent to 135.400 cents.
* Investors are unsure about cash cattle price direction
this week given more animals up for sale, an analyst said.
* Still, they are encouraged by strong beef demand and
improved packer margins, which could underpin cash cattle
prices, he said.
* Isolated cash cattle bids of $142 per hundredweight (cwt)
surfaced in Texas and Kansas with no response from sellers,
feedlot sources said.
* Last week, cash cattle in Texas and Kansas moved at $147
per cwt, and at $148 in Nebraska, they said.
* FEEDER CATTLE - May was at 179.225 cents, 0.600
cent higher, and August gained 0.575 cent to 183.025
* Firmer CME live cattle and technical buying sent feeder
cattle futures higher.
* LEAN HOGS - May lean hogs were at 123.825 cents per
lb, down 0.150 cent. Most actively traded June climbed
1.025 cents to 127.275 cents, and July rose 1.000 cents
to 125.000 cents.
* Profit-taking pressured May CME hogs while
short-covering, led by Wednesday's higher cash and wholesale
pork prices, lifted remaining contracts, traders said.
* Packers raised cash hog bids to ensure they have enough
supplies for this week's production, a trader said.
* He said processors that were offline on Monday for
extended Easter holiday observances plan to make up the downtime
* Retailers are purchasing pork to feature during the
spring grilling season, traders and analysts said.
* USDA's export data showed U.S. pork sales at 15,100
tonnes, mostly to Mexico, compared to 8,600 tonnes the week
(Reporting by Theopolis Waters in Chicago)