By Karl Plume
CHICAGO, March 6 Chicago Mercantile Exchange
live cattle futures eased on Monday on profit-taking and
technical selling, although losses were limited by firm
wholesale beef prices and the discount of futures to cash
prices, traders said.
April live cattle closed down 0.425 cent per pound
to 115.550 cents, slipping below the contract's 50-day moving
average around $115.871. June ended down 0.475 cent at
106.275 cents and August was 0.200 cent lower at 102.075
Cash cattle markets were quiet to start the week after
trading near steady prices last week.
Tight market-ready cattle supplies in Nebraska could
underpin cash prices this week, although packers may be
reluctant to aggressively bid on cattle as their processing
margins have only recently turned positive, analysts said.
The wholesale choice boxed beef cutout value jumped $1.53
per cwt on Monday afternoon to $209.60 while select cuts slipped
by 9 cents to $203.96 per cwt, according to the U.S. Department
Monday's average beef packer margins were a positive $22.75
per head, up from a negative $20.20 a week ago, as calculated by
Technical selling and spillover pressure from declining live
cattle futures weighed down CME feeder cattle.
March feeders closed 0.150 cent per pound lower at
CME lean hog futures edged higher on Monday on short
covering and bargain buying following a steep drop on Friday and
as wholesale pork prices ticked higher.
Gains, however, were slowed by concerns about a looming herd
buildup as the most recent U.S. government quarterly hog report
showed large numbers of pigs coming to market this spring and
April hogs ended 0.425 cent per pound higher at
67.175 cents while May futures were up 0.300 at 73.050
Traders were monitoring news about the country's first
outbreak of bird flu this year on a chicken breeding farm in
Tennessee. Some importers have already moved to curb U.S.
poultry and products.
"If the bird flu outbreak prompts (U.S.) consumers to move
away from chicken and looking at other meats, that may be
initially supportive for pork. But it will become bearish over
time because of the backup of meat supply," said Steve Georgy,
vice president at Illinois-based consultancy Allendale Inc.
USDA data on Monday showed the average wholesale pork price,
or cutout, jumped $1.90 per cwt from Friday to $82.53.
(Reporting by Karl Plume; Editing by Leslie Adler)