Live cattle futures hit highest in nearly three months - CME

Hog futures end mostly higher
calendar icon 5 February 2024
clock icon 2 minute read

Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) live cattle futures closed at their highest in nearly three months on Friday, buoyed by this week's firm cash cattle trade and government data confirming the smallest US herd since 1951, Reuters reported, citing traders.

CME April live cattle futures settled up 0.575 cent at 183.750 cents per pound after reaching 184.300 cents, the contract's highest since Nov. 7.

March feeder cattle futures ended down 0.075 cent at 244.800 cents per pound, easing on profit-taking after a climb to 246.125 cents, its highest since Oct. 20.

Market-ready cattle traded in the Texas cash markets this week at around $178 per hundredweight (cwt) and in Kansas as high as $179, up $3 to $4 from the bulk of last week's trades. The higher prices reflect the impact of frigid winter weather in mid-January that reduced cattle weights, analysts said.

Traders continued to digest Wednesday's cattle inventory report from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), which reported the total number of US cattle as of Jan. 1 at 87.2 million head, down 2% from a year earlier and the smallest since 1951.

The report was roughly in line with market expectations and reflected the impact of a multi-year drought in the Plains that prompted ranchers to slash their herds as they struggled with reduced grazing areas and elevated feed costs.

Wholesale beef prices were mixed on Friday afternoon with choice cuts priced at $293.08 per cwt, down $1.86 from Thursday, while select cuts rose 22 cents to $283.47 per cwt, according to USDA data.

CME hog futures ended mostly higher, with the benchmark April contract settling up 0.075 cent at 83.825 cents per pound.

The CME's Lean Hog Index, a two-day weighted average of cash prices, rose to 72.71 cents per pound, its highest reading since Nov. 23.

The USDA priced the pork carcass cutout late Friday at $88.40 per cwt, down 19 cents from Thursday.

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