CME live cattle gain, hogs mostly up in choppy trading

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
limited advances.
    * There were no deliveries reported by CME late on Wednesday
against the April live cattle contract that will expire on April 30. * 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 cents. * 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 on Saturday. * 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 before. (Reporting by Theopolis Waters in Chicago)

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