* 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
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
Monday's cutout bounce partly reflected USDA adjustments to
output, or yield, value from different cuts of beef, a trader
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
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
(Editing by Matthew Lewis)