September 4, 2019 / 11:35 PM / in 2 months

LIVESTOCK-U.S. live cattle futures end lower, feeder cattle advance

CHICAGO, Sept 4 (Reuters) - U.S. benchmark live cattle futures drifted lower on Wednesday, pressured by expectations of weaker cash cattle prices this week and a seasonal slowdown in demand for beef following the Labor Day holiday, traders said.

“We finished the last official holiday of summer, and now people are going to wait for the beef to break a little,” said Dan Norcini, an independent livestock trader.

The USDA late Wednesday quoted choice boxed beef cutout BEEF-US-CH at $230.65 per cwt, down $0.01 from Tuesday, and select cutout fell $2.67 at $208.95.

The cattle market is still reacting to the shutdown of a Tyson beef slaughterhouse in Holcomb, Kansas, that was shuttered by a fire last month. The facility is expected to return to business as usual by the end of the year, but cattle supplies could back up in the interim, pressuring cash values, traders said.

“The cattle have gone elsewhere but at the packing plants they are showing up at, that’s extra supply. So they (meat packers) can be picky, sit back and play hardball,” Norcini said.

CME October live cattle futures settled down 0.250 cent at 99.025 cents per pound and December live cattle fell 0.750 cent to 103.575 cents.

Feeder cattle futures rose, bucking weakness in live cattle and drawing support from sliding Chicago Board of Trade corn futures.

CME October feeder cattle rose 1.325 cents to settle at 133.425 cents per pound.

Hog futures closed mixed, with the nearby October contract settling higher and most back months declining.

Lean hog contracts settled solidly above their session lows as rising retail pork costs in China continued to fuel optimism that the Asian country will boost pork imports, possibly from the United States. China, the world’s largest pork consumer, is struggling with outbreaks of African swine fever, a deadly hog disease, in its massive herd.

However, near-term fundamentals are bearish as plentiful domestic hog supplies pressure U.S. cash hog and pork prices.

Cash hog prices in the closely watched Iowa and southern Minnesota market fell $0.90 on Wednesday, and the pork cutout fell $1.74, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA).

CME October lean hog futures settled up 0.600 cent at 67.125 cents per pound while December fell 0.600 cent at 65.225 cents. (Reporting by Julie Ingwersen Editing by Chris Reese)

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