U.S. livestock: February hogs down, cattle up ahead of USDA data

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange cattle futures edged higher while hog futures eased slightly on Thursday as traders awaited the release of two key U.S. government reports.

The U.S. Agriculture Department reports, released after the market closed, showed that the U.S. hog herd was slightly lower than analysts were expecting, at 102 per cent of a year ago.

Cattle placed on feed also was 102 per cent of a year earlier, slightly above analysts’ estimates for 101.8 per cent.

“Overall, up and down the categories, you have to call it mildly supportive,” said Don Roose, president of U.S. Commodities in West Des Moines, Iowa. “Expansion continues.”

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Analysts had expected higher on-feed cattle supplies and lower placements, and a growing U.S. hog herd, according to Reuters poll collected ahead of the data.

The most active CME February hog futures contract ended down 0.325 cent at 62.375 cents/lb. (all figures US$). Deferred contracts were up 0.1 cent to down 0.1 cent.

CME February live cattle rose 0.1 cent from Wednesday’s close, ending at 122.35 cents/lb. Deferred contracts were steady to up 0.3 cent.

CME January feeder cattle futures ended up 1.225 cents at 147.425 cents while March futures were 1.175 cents higher at 145.45 cents.

— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago.

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