LIVESTOCK-Big chill moves CME live cattle futures to record highs

* Most CME feeder cattle post new contract highs
    * Hog futures slip on possible cash, demand worries

    By Theopolis Waters
    CHICAGO, Jan 6 (Reuters) - Chicago Mercantile Exchange live
cattle futures, on a lead-month chart basis, notched a
new high for a fourth straight session on Monday, partly driven
by Arctic air that disrupted livestock production in parts of
the country, traders said.
    Treacherous travel conditions in the Midwest snarled the
delivery of cattle and hogs to meat packers such as Cargill Inc
 and Tyson Foods Inc. 
    And cattle are less available to processors as extreme wind
chills halted or slowed down cattle weight gains. Futures were already trying to catch up to cash cattle prices that last week climbed to record highs, traders said. Last Friday, most cash cattle in the U.S. Plains traded at $137 per hundredweight (cwt), besting the previous week's $133 to $136 record, feedlot sources said. Packers were short-bought cattle after back-to-back holidays. And despite their fading margins, processors needed supplies for the first full week of production in 2014. Beef packer margins for Monday were estimated at a negative $100.05 per head, compared with a negative $95.10 per head on Friday and negative $88.25 a week ago, as calculated by Whether packers will continue to keep pace with record-high cash prices is questionable given their deteriorating margins and worries about beef demand moving forward. "This cold weather is going to dampen consumer buying and the movement of product from the packer to restaurateurs and grocers," said Livestock Marketing Information Center director Jim Robb. The Monday afternoon wholesale price, or cutout, for choice beef rose $1.21 per cwt from Friday to $205.15, and select jumped $2.28 to $201.38, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Monday's cutout bounce partly reflected USDA adjustments to
output, or yield, value from different cuts of beef, a trader said. And beef end users competed for beef that became scarce after plants shutdown during the Christmas and New Year's holidays, he said. February live cattle ended 0.525 cent per lb higher at 136.825 cents, and April finished at 136.925 cents, up 0.350 cent. Most CME feeder cattle futures marked new contract highs supported by the higher live cattle market. Feeder cattle for January closed at 168.025 cents per lb, up 0.400 cent. March finished unchanged at 168.100 after hitting a new contract high of 168.750 cents in electronic trading. April closed down 0.050 cent per lb at 168.900 cents. It earlier posted a contract high of 169.500 cents. HOG FUTURES SLIP ON CASH FEARS CME hog futures were weakened by concern that cash prices might suffer as temperatures in the Plains moderate later in the week, traders said. Fewer hogs due to weather minimized hog market losses, independent hog futures trader James Burns said. But pork product sales remain a challenge, and could get worse if more hogs come to market that were backed up on farms due to weather issues. The afternoon's average price of hogs in the closely watched Iowa/Minnesota market was up $1.48 per cwt from Friday to
$79.48, according to USDA. Monday afternoon's wholesale pork price gained 9 cents per cwt from Friday to $82.88, according to USDA. February hogs closed down 0.050 cent per lb at 86.625 cents, and April ended at 91.425 cents, 0.150 cent lower. (Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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