U.S. livestock: Feeder cattle weak as temperatures fall

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures were mostly firmer on Tuesday, with the most-active April contract hitting an all-time high, due to strong domestic demand, traders said.

Feeder cattle futures were mixed, with the nearby contracts easing as temperatures in key livestock production regions of the U.S. are forecast to plummet near record lows.

Livestock producers will be boosting the amount of feed they give their animals to ensure they keep weight on during the cold snap, cutting into already thin profit margins.

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“Cattle has been set back with all the storms,” said Don Roose of Iowa-based U.S. Commodities. “It is the weather that has dominated the market.”

CME March feeder cattle closed 0.1 cent lower at 144.25 cents/lb. (all figures US$).

CME February live cattle finished 0.075 cent higher at 126.475 cents/lb. and most-active April cattle ended up 0.425 cent at 127.8 cents.

Hog futures edged higher on short-covering after bottoming out at their lowest since August on Monday.

Some optimism about trade talks between the U.S. and China also lent support to hog futures but the gains were kept in check as traders waited for signs of any new export deals with the world’s biggest pork consumer.

“The timeline for Chinese pork import needs, and therefore U.S. export potential, continues to be backed up,” INTL FCStone said in a research note to clients.

CME April hog futures, the most-active contract, were up 0.225 cent at 62.55 cents.

— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago.

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