U.S. livestock: Futures fall as corn rally boosts feeding costs

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange cattle and hog futures closed mostly lower on Thursday, with a rally in the corn market pressuring livestock contracts, traders said.

“It had a lot to do with corn going up,” said Doug Houghton, an analyst with Brock Associates Inc. “Feed costs are higher.”

Feeder cattle futures notched the biggest losses, setting contract lows across the board. The most actively traded August contract dropped 3.2 per cent.

The market was awaiting the U.S. Agriculture Department’s weekly export sales report, which will be released on Friday morning.

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Last week, the government said pork export sales were a surprisingly large 46,300 tonnes, up from 10,600 tonnes the prior week. Beef export sales also rose, to 24,400 tonnes from 16,9000 tonnes.

Most traders expected Friday’s report to show export sales of both commodities below last week’s unexpectedly bullish levels.

The first case of African swine fever has been reported in North Korea, South Korea’s agriculture ministry said on Thursday, showing how the virus has spread widely since the first outbreak in East Asia was found in China last August.

CME June lean hogs closed down 1.525 cents at 83.675 cents/lb. while actively traded July hogs ended up 0.075 cent at 87.875 cents (all figures US$).

June live cattle dropped 2.275 cents, to 110.075 cents/lb., and actively traded August fell 2.8 cents, to 105.05 cents.

August feeder cattle finished down 4.5 cents at 138.225 cents/lb. and September feeders fell 4.5 cents, to 138.525 cents.

— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago.

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