February 8, 2018 / 8:45 PM / 12 days ago

LIVESTOCK-CME live cattle ends mostly weaker; awaits cash prices

    CHICAGO, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Most Chicago Mercantile Exchange
live cattle contracts on Thursday posted modest losses after a
volatile session, as investors waited for cattle in the U.S.
Plains to change hands, traders said.
    February futures drew support from wintry weather across the
western Corn Belt that threatens to disrupt livestock
production.
    February         live cattle closed up 0.175 cent per pound
at 125.775 cents. April         ended down 0.250 cent at 123.725
cents, and June         finished down 0.200 cent at 115.525
cents.
    Packer bids for market-ready, or cash, cattle in the Plains 
stand at $124 per cwt against $129 to $130 seller offers. On
Wednesday a few animals at the Fed Cattle Exchange auction sold
for $126.
    Last week, Plains cash cattle brought $125 to $126 per cwt.
    Market bears are skeptical that packers will pay more for
supplies while trying to conserve margins that remain profitable
but down from earlier this year.        
    Bullish investors expect steady to firmer cash returns based
on lighter animal weights, the result of fringed temperatures
that tends to slow weight gains in livestock.
    "I think packers are going to compete for numbers this week,
they're just waiting. They know they're going to have to buy
some cattle, so they're not going to push early in the week,"
Hales Trading Co President David Hales said.
    On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's export
sales data showed U.S. beef for the week ended Feb. 1 totaled
18,500 tonnes for the current marketing year, down from 25,200
tonnes in the previous week.
    Technical selling and weaker CME live cattle futures weighed
on the exchange's feeder cattle contracts.
    March         feeders ended 1.050 cents per pound lower at
147.250 cents. 
   
    HOG FUTURES CLOSE MIXED
    CME February lean hogs, which will expire on Feb. 14, ended
lower after investors sold that contract and simultaneously
bought under-valued April futures, traders said.
    They said lower prices for wholesale pork and
slaughter-ready, or cash, hogs further discouraged February
futures buyers.                
    February hogs         closed 0.450 cent per pound lower at
73.400 cents. Most-active April         finished up 0.225 cent 
at 69.450 cents.
    Rough weather in the Midwest will force some packers to
compete for hogs while faced with their single-digit profits, a
trader said.
    USDA's export sales report put U.S. pork exports for the
latest week at 12,700 tonnes, down from 27,300 in the prior
week.

 (Reporting by Theopolis Waters; Editing by Paul Simao)
  
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