U.S. livestock: Bargain buying, short-covering lift CME hogs

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange hog futures settled higher on Friday, with support from bargain buying and short-covering heading into the weekend, said traders.

CME June hog futures led gainers after investors bought that contract and simultaneously sold deferred months in a trading strategy known as bull spreads, they said.

June hogs closed 0.975 cents/lb. higher at 77.6 cents (all figures US$). July ended 0.75 cents higher at 78.8 cents.

Cash hog prices rallied for nearly a week after hot weather in parts of the U.S. Midwest slowed animal weight gains, delaying delivery to packers, said traders and analysts.

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On Friday, some investors bought futures after digesting Thursday’s news of a potential trade war after the U.S. imposed tariffs on metal imports from Canada and Mexico.

Mexico retaliated with immediate duties on some U.S. pork products. By volume, Mexico is the top importer of U.S. pork, according to industry analysts.

Friday’s weaker wholesale pork values, along with future’s premiums to cash prices, tempered CME hog market advances, said traders and analysts.

Cattle futures move lower

CME live cattle drew pressure from technical selling and expectations of larger supplies in the weeks ahead, said traders.

“As each week goes by in June, the calendar will take the industry into the heart of one of the most well-advertised ‘walls’ of market-ready cattle in memory,” said Cassandra Fish, author of industry blog The Beef.

Future’s discounts to this week’s prices for market-ready, or cash, cattle limited front-month losses, traders said.

This week packers paid mostly $110/cwt for cash cattle in the U.S. Plains, which was nearly consistent with last week’s sales.

Retail and restaurant featuring of beef for Father’s Day could help stabilize the cash price decline in recent weeks, a trader said. Packers are operating plants with record-high margins, which might encourage them to pay more for cattle next week, he said.

June live cattle closed down 0.15 cent/lb. at 104.9 cents. August ended down 0.325 cent at 103.625 cents.

Technical selling and lower back-month CME live cattle futures dropped the exchange’s feeder cattle market for a second straight session.

August closed 1.075 cents/lb. lower at 146.325 cents.

Reporting for Reuters by Theopolis Waters in Chicago.

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