CHICAGO, Sept 19 (Reuters) - U.S. feeder cattle and live cattle futures hit their highest prices since August on Thursday, supported by strength in the cash market, before ending mixed.
Cash cattle had set the firmer tone on Wednesday, trading for $101 per cwt in Texas and Kansas, up from a range of $97-$100 in Texas last week and $99-$100 in Kansas last week, according to traders.
The increase was a turnaround after cash prices and futures tumbled when a fire at a Tyson Foods slaughterhouse in Kansas in August removed a major buyer from the market.
“The tone sounds like it’s getting better,” a cattle futures trader said.
October feeder cattle futures reached their highest price since Aug. 9 at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) before closing up 0.525 cent at 138.925 cents per pound.
October live cattle futures traded up to 100.625 cents per pound, their highest price since Aug. 27, before retreating. The contract closed down 0.575 cent at 99.800 cents per pound.
The setback came as some traders were disappointed with a lack of new cash cattle trades.
“We’re dealing with a market where you continually need to see the higher trade,” a trader said.
Boxed beef cutout prices dropped by $0.07 per cwt for choice cuts and rose by $0.19 per cwt for select cuts, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
In the pork market, lean hog futures ended mostly higher at the CME.
Traders generally expect China to increase meat imports as it struggles with an outbreak of African swine fever, a fatal pig disease that has devastated the Chinese hog herd.
China bought 782 tonnes of U.S. pork from Sept. 6-12, the USDA said, down from 10,878 tonnes a week earlier. Total U.S. net pork export sales were 14,200 tonnes for 2019, down 35% from the previous week and 34% from the prior four -week average.
“You’re still seeing pricing on the expectations for better exports coming forward,” said Matt Wiegand, commodity broker for FuturesOne.
China auctioned 10,000 tonnes of pork from state reserves on Thursday to secure meat supply during the National Day holiday, the country’s commerce ministry said, after African swine fever recently drove prices to record highs.
October lean hog futures set a one-week low and ended down 1.525 cents at 61.400 cents per pound. December lean hog futures rose 0.150 cent to 67.950 cents per pound. Other deferred contacts also settled firmer. (Reporting by Tom Polansek in Chicago; editing by Grant McCool)