March 16, 2017 / 8:29 PM / 5 months ago

CORRECTED-LIVESTOCK-Cattle futures hit 7-week high on beef packer margins

 (In ninth paragraph of March 16 story, corrects to say pork
prices were at the highest in three years, not five)
    By Michael Hirtzer
    CHICAGO, March 16 (Reuters) - U.S. live cattle futures
       rose to a seven-week high on Thursday, boosted by recent
gains in beef prices that increased profit margins for meat
packers, traders and analysts said.
    Technical buying also was noted, with some investors buying
back positions in front-month Chicago Mercantile Exchange April
live cattle futures       . April cattle rose more than 1
percent for the second straight session, finishing up 1.500
cents to 119.200 cents per pound, highest since Jan. 25.
    CME April feeder cattle futures        touched the highest
levels since Aug. 23 before trimming gains, settling up 1.85
cents to 130.550 cents per pound. The contract has climbed in
six out of the past seven trading sessions.
    Wholesale beef prices were hovering near their highest since
July, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. Beef
packers could earn $130.45 for each cattle they processed,
according to consultancy HedgersEdge LLC.                   
    "Live cattle futures have surged on this week's robust cash
trade and technical buying," brokerage Brock and Associates said
in a note to clients, recommending that subscribers exit some of
their short April live cattle positions.
    Open interest in April live and feeder cattle declined
during Wednesday's session of higher prices, suggesting
short-covering, CME Group data showed early on Thursday.
    Cash cattle in Kansas traded at $128 per cwt on Wednesday,
up $3 from the previous week.         
    
    HOGS TRADE MIXED
    Lean hog futures were narrowly mixed in bear-spreading, with
nearby contracts easing narrowly while some deferred contracts
such as July hogs        were slightly higher. Front-month April
lean hog futures        were down 0.175 cent to 69.900 cents per
pound, declining for the second straight session.
    Hog traders continued to grapple with nearly record-large
U.S. hog and pork production and relatively aggressive buying by
pork packers and retailers. Pork prices were at the highest in
three years for this time of year, implying good demand,
according to Tim Hughes, leader of the hog margin team at
Commodity and Ingredient Hedging.
    "On the other hand, we continue to see record production ...
and a softening in the pace of weekly export sales. Therefore,
the market continues to move in a fairly small trading range,"
Hughes said.
    USDA earlier said U.S. pork export sales in the week ended
March 9 totaled 12,900 tonnes, down nearly 30 percent from the
previous week. Weekly U.S. beef export sales totaled 16,100
tonnes, down 4 percent from a week ago.

 (Reporting by Michael Hirtzer; Editing by James Dalgleish)
  

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