CME live cattle futures close mixed

Lean hog markets pressured by discounted cash prices
calendar icon 18 May 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) lean hog futures declined on Wednesday, snapping a three-session advance, pressured by a discounted cash hog market and declining wholesale pork prices, Reuters reported, citing traders.

CME June lean hog futures settled down 2.325 cents at 84.875 cents per pound and the July contract fell 2.575 cents to end at 85.550 cents.

Cash hogs continue to trade at a significant discount to futures. The CME lean hog index, a two-day weighted average of cash hog prices, rose by 67 cents to $77.17 per hundredweight (cwt), its highest since March 22, but still the equivalent of nearly $8 per cwt below futures.

On the pork side, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) priced the carcass cutout late Wednesday at $83.07 per cwt, down 68 cents from Tuesday.

"Until the cash (market) can move up more aggressively and the cutout can move up, the upside is limited," said Don Roose, president of Iowa-based US Commodities.

Traders await the USDA's weekly export sales report on Thursday for a gauge of export demand for US pork and beef.

CME live cattle futures closed mixed, with the most-active nearby contracts finishing higher and back months drifting lower. June live cattle settled up 0.950 cent at 164.825 cents per pound, and benchmark August futures ended 0.650 cent higher at 163.125 cents.

CME August feeder cattle finished down 0.325 cent at 231.150 cents per pound.

Boxed beef prices continued to retreat, with choice cuts priced on Wednesday afternoon at $298.15 per cwt, down $1.32 from Tuesday, and select cuts at $282.89 per cwt, down $1.46.

Ahead of Friday's monthly USDA Cattle on Feed report, analysts surveyed by Reuters on average expected the government to report the number of cattle in US feedlots as of May 1 at 96.5% of a year ago, or about 11.6 million head.

Analysts on average estimated that April feedlot placements at 96.3% of a year ago and April marketings at 90.3% of a year ago.

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