Cattle Futures Mixed; Hogs Higher on Weather Concerns

By Benjamin Parkin Features Dow Jones Newswires

Cattle futures were mixed on Friday on light trading volume in the cash market.

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Trade was thin in southern states, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, but packers bought some cattle in eastern Nebraska and Iowa for around $1.36 to $1.37 a pound live, and $2.18 to $2.20 a pound dressed.

Feedyards have pushed packers for higher cash values in the belief that firm beef prices and wide processing margins justify the extra expense, analysts say. Much of this week's market-ready live cattle are yet to trade.

Wholesale beef rose on Friday morning to $2.51 a pound, while packer margins continued above $140 a head.

But live cattle futures turned lower as a recent rally lost momentum. Futures earlier this week tested their high for the year, before settling into a range of around two cents. Contracts for June delivery at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange fell 0.1% to $1.3125 a pound. CME June feeder cattle futures inched higher, gaining 0.2% to $1.54175 a pound.

The USDA lowered its total meat production estimate for 2017 in a monthly supply-and-demand report released Friday, a reflection of falling cattle weights in recent months. But much of that had already been priced into the market, said Mike Zuzolo, president of Global Commodity Analytics & Consulting in Atchison, Kansas.

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Hog futures rose on the back of rising cash prices. A bout of hot weather in states like Iowa could affect hog weights, said Manchester, N.H.-based Steiner Consulting Group in a note to clients, with average weights already down from last year.

Cash hog prices were expected to continue climbing to new multimonth highs on Friday, while wholesale pork prices also jumped late this week.

CME June lean hog futures rose 0.6% to 82.475 cents a pound.

Write to Benjamin Parkin at benjamin.parkin@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 09, 2017 15:39 ET (19:39 GMT)