* Feeder cattle ends sharply lower
* Lean hog market finishes weaker
By Theopolis Waters
CHICAGO, March 2 Chicago Mercantile Exchange
live cattle futures slumped on Thursday, with pressure from
profit-taking partly fueled by increased supply expectations,
April live cattle closed 1.425 cents per pound lower
at 116.150 cents, and June closed 1.075 cents lower at
"I'm surprised at the (futures) weakness given bullish
near-term fundamentals. But previous USDA cattle reports have
shown that we have an ample supply of cattle coming the rest of
the year," Oak Investment Group President Joe Ocrant said.
This week's slaughter-ready, or cash, cattle in the U.S.
Plains traded at $124 to $126 per cwt, steady to up $2 from last
week, feedlot sources said.
Thursday morning's choice wholesale beef price rose 44 cents
per cwt to $207.12 from Wednesday. Select cuts were up 14 cents
to $203.01, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.
Thursday's average beef packer margins were a positive $9.60
per head, up from a negative $29.35 a week ago, as calculated
Technical selling and live cattle future's losses dragged
down CME feeder cattle.
March feeders closed 1.050 cents per pound lower at
HOG FUTURES END WEAKER
Softer cash and wholesale pork prices weighed on CME lean
hogs, traders said.
They said light fund selling contributed to lean hog market
April hogs ended down 0.150 cent per pound to
68.275 cents, and below the 10-day moving average of 68.572
cents. May closed down 0.025 cent to 74.100 cents, and
under the 40-day moving average of 74.159 cents.
Thursday morning's cash hog price in Iowa/Minnesota averaged
$68.27 per cwt, 81 cents lower than on Wednesday, the USDA said.
U.S. government data on Thursday showed the average
wholesale pork price dropped 51 cents per cwt to $81.11 from
Wednesday, mostly due to a $2.97 drop in pork bellies.
"There are plenty of hogs around, and bigger numbers coming
this spring and summer," a Midwest hog merchant said.
Another merchant said the industry could see a large
slaughter this week, unlike last week when weather issues and
Monday's holiday disrupted production.
Hog merchants predict a roughly 125,000-plus hog slaughter
on Saturday, up from 119,000 head a week earlier.
(Reporting by Theopolis Waters; Editing by Paul Simao)