U.S. livestock: Cattle futures end week nearly flat, as hog futures inch up

Chicago | Reuters – Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) live cattle futures ended the week near previous levels, as funds took some profits on deferred cattle positions and cash trade remained light.

Cash cattle prices were steady to up $1 in Iowa and Nebraska on Friday, with prices at $114 to $116, traders said.

Meanwhile, hog futures inched up as traders still expect China, the world’s biggest hog producer, to ramp up pork imports later this year after a fatal hog disease killed millions of pigs there and lifted pork prices.

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“The word with hog futures is premium, and frankly, I think it’s too big of a premium,” said Don Roose, president of U.S. Commodities in West Des Moines, Iowa.

CME August lean hog futures closed Friday up 0.475 cent at 86.425 cents per pound, while October hogs climbed 0.8 cent to 79.45 cents. Earlier this week, both contracts traded at their highest prices since May 31.

Live cattle futures ended Friday higher.

Traders said that while the recent U.S. Department of Agriculture cattle slaughter data showed that meat production in June was lower than a year ago, some traders shrugged off the results – noting that there were fewer slaughter days in June of this year compared to a year earlier.

Instead, traders said, the market was focused on the recent USDA mid-year cattle inventory, as traders are betting that the five-year expansion of the U.S. herd is showing signs of leveling off, and a drop in cold storage inventories.

The total number of cattle and calves was unchanged in the July, beef cow numbers were unchanged from a year-ago and dairy cow numbers slipped about 1 per cent, according to government data.

Adding to that, traders said, USDA has reported that the 2019 calf crop may also be slightly smaller – which could hamper any growth in beef production in 2020.

CME August live cattle futures closed Friday unchanged at 108.65 cents per pound. CME October cattle rose 0.250 cent to 108.500 cents per pound, CME December cattle fell 0.05 cent to $114.300 cents per pound.

CME August feeder cattle futures settled Friday up 0.925 cent to 143.725 cents per pound. September feeders edged up 0.875 cents to 144.100 cents per pound.

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