Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle closed higher on Thursday as expectations of steady-to-higher cash trade later this week lifted futures, traders said.
April closed 1.225 cents per pound higher at 163.025 cents and June closed 1.15 cents/lb. higher at 153.375 cents (all figures US$).
“The market is anticipating better cash cattle trade and better boxed beef prices — that is what is driving the improvement in the cattle,” said Dan Norcini.
Thursday morning’s choice wholesale beef price rose 98 cents per hundredweight (cwt) from Wednesday to $256.40. Select cuts rose 60 cents/cwt to $250.82, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Last week, cash cattle traded $2 higher at $165 to $166/cwt in the U.S. Plains. There were some offers of $167-$168 but there were no trades, Kansas and Texas cash market sources said.
Weekly slaughter volume was expected to be lower as some plants were expected to be closed on Friday and next Monday due to the Easter Sunday holiday, traders said.
CME feeder cattle ended higher, following CME live cattle futures.
April closed 1.750 cents/lb. higher at 220.375 cents. May closed 0.8 cent/lb. higher at 217.45 and August was 0.625 higher at 218.55 cents.
Greater supply pressures hogs
April CME lean hogs ended slightly higher on short covering and pre-holiday positioning, Norcini said. The front-month contract, which expires in two weeks, ended at its highest level since March. 11.
April closed 0.275 cent/lb. higher at 63.175 cents. May ended 0.85 cent lower, at 68.35 cents.
Ample amounts of market-ready hogs pressured the rest of the CME lean hog contracts, which ended lower.
“There are some that believe there is going to be a transition away from high-priced beef to less expensive pork, so far it hasn’t happened yet,” Norcini said. “There is also plentiful chicken as well, so there is no shortage of protein.”
Separate government data showed Thursday morning’s wholesale pork price rose 46 cents/cwt from Wednesday to $64.44, USDA said.
— Meredith Davis reports on livestock markets for Reuters from Chicago.