March 1, 2017 / 8:56 PM / 9 months ago

LIVESTOCK-CME live cattle futures end mostly firm; hogs higher

    By Theopolis Waters
    CHICAGO, March 1 (Reuters) - Most Chicago Mercantile
Exchange live cattle futures closed firmer on Wednesday, after
investors sold April futures and simultaneously bought deferred
    Investors held off buying April futures despite strong
wholesale beef values and steady-to-better cash price
expectations for this week.
    April live cattle         closed 0.350 cent per pound lower
at 117.575 cents. June         finished up 0.250 cent to 107.800
cents and August         0.575 cent higher at 103.000 cents.
    The morning's choice wholesale beef price climbed $2.02 per
cwt to $206.75 from Tuesday. Select cuts were up $1.25 to
$202.60, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.
    Bullish near-term fundamentals are encouraging, but the
April contract suggests weaker cash prices during at that time,
a trader said.
    "Better margins and good beef demand are incentives for 
packers to pay a little bit more for cattle this week. But there
are more cattle for sale this week too," he said.
    Wednesday morning's Fed Cattle Exchange set the tone for
this week's cash prices after animals, on average, brought $125.
    Other packers in the U.S. Plains bid $125 per cwt for
remaining slaughter-ready, or cash, cattle that were priced at
$128. Cash cattle a week earlier fetched $124 to $125. 
    Wednesday's average beef packer margins were at a negative
$3.05 per head, up from negative $19.00 on Tuesday, as
calculated by
    Profit-taking and higher corn prices dropped CME feeder
    March feeders         closed down 0.575 cent per pound to
124.500 cents.
    Short-covering and Wednesday's cash price rebound lifted CME
lean hogs, said traders.
    April hogs         ended 0.825 cent per pound higher at
68.425 cents. May         closed up 0.175 cent to 74.125 cents.
    Wednesday morning's cash hog price in Iowa/Minnesota
averaged $69.06 per cwt, 60 cents higher than on Tuesday, the
USDA said.
    Packers could use a few hogs for the second half of the
week, especially as their margins grow, a Midwest hog merchant
said. Unfortunately, fluctuating pork belly prices are impacting
the pork cutout - a factor used in determining packer profits,
he said.
    U.S. government data on Wednesday morning showed the average
wholesale pork price fell 67 cents per cwt to $81.27 from
Tuesday, mostly because of $5.15 lower pork bellies. calculated Wednesday's average pork packer
margin at a positive $23.25 per head, up from a positive $18.65
on Tuesday and a positive $16.30 a week ago.

 (Reporting by Theopolis Waters; Editing by James Dalgleish)

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