U.S. livestock: CME hogs slip on weaker cash

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) lean hog futures closed lower on Friday, following softening cash hog prices, traders said.

CME February hog futures settled down 1.425 cents at 62.65 cents/lb., halting a three-session advance (all figures US$).

Traders noted that hogs in the top cash market of Iowa and southern Minnesota traded at an average price of $50.73/cwt, down from $51.10 a day earlier, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“The (futures) market is still carrying a premium to cash. Today and yesterday, we (had) a little bit of a lower cash market. So some of that bullish enthusiasm got sucked out,” said Top Third Ag Marketing analyst Craig VanDyke.

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CME live cattle futures traded mostly higher on technical buying and anticipation of higher cash cattle trade compared to a week ago, brokers said.

After the close, cash cattle traded in Kansas and Nebraska at $124/cwt, up $1 from last week.

Packers and cattle feeders were still in a stand-off at the closing bell, a factor that seemed to favour the feedyards, VanDyke said.

“To me, that says maybe the yards have a little bit of leverage. So they could, at a minimum, be looking at steady cash trade,” he said.

CME February live cattle settled 0.1 cent higher at 124.975 cents/lb., after notching a contract high at 125.65 cents.

However, CME March feeder cattle fell 0.175 cent at 144.9 cents/lb. The thinly traded January contract also declined, closing down 0.625 cent at 146.125 cents/lb.

Trading volume in cattle futures was heavy this week due in part to commodity index funds rebalancing their portfolios, an annual five-session process that began Jan. 8.

Traders had expected that the funds would sell roughly 7,000 live cattle futures and 6,000 lean hog futures over the course of the rebalance, and buy about 1,000 feeder cattle futures.

— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago; additional reporting by Julie Ingwersen.

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