U.S. livestock: Cattle futures ease after hitting contract highs

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures fell on Thursday on a round of profit taking after hitting contract highs early in the session.

Feeder cattle contracts weakened in sympathy while hog futures eased on concerns about the spread of African swine fever, traders said.

Hog futures hit their lowest since Aug. 9.

China’s customs said on Thursday it has banned pigs, wild boars, and products from Mongolia after the Asian country reported African swine fever outbreaks in mid-January.

The new rule was put in place to prevent the deadly virus from spreading to China from Mongolia, and protect the domestic livestock sector, China’s General Administration of the Customs said in a statement published on its website.

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CME February live cattle fell 1.35 cents to 124.8 cents/lb. and most active April cattle fell 1.75 cents to 126.03 cents (all figures US$).

Live cattle futures had risen for four days in a row. The April contract peaked at 129.475 cents.

CME March feeder cattle closed 1.75 cents lower at 142.55 cents/lb.

CME April hog futures, the most active contract, dropped two cents to 60.225 cents.

The U.S. Agriculture Department on Thursday morning said that beef export sales for the week ended Dec. 20 were 21,600 tonnes and pork export sales totaled 38,200 tonnes. Export sales reports had been delayed due to the partial government shutdown.

— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago.

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