CME hogs mixed before USDA report; live cattle higher

By Theopolis Waters

CHICAGO, March 27 (Reuters) – Chicago Mercantile Exchange lean hog futures settled narrowly mixed Friday on positioning prior to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s quarterly hog report at 2 p.m. CDT, traders said.

Analysts expect Friday’s report to confirm active herd expansion during the last quarter.

April and May closed up 0.150 cent per pound to 61.125 cents and 68.175 cents, respectively. June ended down 0.150 cent to 75.000 cents and July off 0.075 cent at 75.775 cents.

Uneasiness about near-term cash prices, and the morning’s wholesale pork value relapse, weighed on CME hog contracts, said traders and analysts.

On Friday morning, cash hog prices in the Midwest region traded mostly steady with Thursday’s sales, said regional hog dealers.

The morning’s wholesale pork price slumped $1.17 per hundredweight (cwt) from Thursday to $66.08, USDA said.

Some packers bought hogs for early next week, while others are snug on inventories through the coming Good Friday/Easter holiday weekend, a trader said.

Retailers are not aggressively buying large amounts of pork given ample supplies to accommodate early spring grilling demand, he said.

LIVE CATTLE RISE

CME live cattle settled higher on short-covering in anticipation of steady-or-better cash prices for this week, traders said.

April closed 0.950 cent per lb. higher at 162.625 cents, and June up 0.975 cent to 152.975 cents.

Cash cattle bids in the U.S. Plains were at $160 to $162 per cwt against $166 to $167 asking prices, industry sources said. Last week, cash cattle moved at $163 to $165.

Packers still need cattle despite unprofitable margins, softer wholesale beef values and Easter holiday kill reductions, said Oak Investment Group president Joe Ocrant.

Friday morning’s Choice wholesale beef price dipped 24 cents per cwt from Thursday at $250.43. Select cuts was down 34 cents to $246.62, USDA said.

The day’s beef packer margins were a negative $42.90 per head, compared with a negative $25.50 on Thursday and a negative $47 per head a week ago, according to Hedgersedge.com.

Thinly traded CME feeder cattle futures ended sharply higher on buy stops and live cattle market advances.

April closed 2.050 cents per lb. higher at 219.275 cents, and May up 2.350 cents to 218.125 cents.

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