Live cattle hit three-week peak on tight supply - CME

April hog futures end lower
calendar icon 30 March 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) live cattle futures marched to a three-week high on Wednesday on expectations for tighter US supplies, Reuters reported, citing analysts.

Feeder cattle futures also advanced, while lean hogs softened.

Technical buying helped support live cattle, analysts said, after a drop near eight-week lows last week was seen as overdone.

The United States will not be wallowing in heavy cattle supplies as usual this summer, after producers have reduced herds due to drought and high feed costs, said Rich Nelson, chief strategist at brokerage Allendale.

"We are questioning what the supply will look like these next few months," Nelson said. "It'll be around July that supplies change earlier than normal."

CME April live cattle settled up 0.875 cent at 165.825 cents per pound and hit their highest price since March 8. June cattle rose 0.750 cent to 159.650 cents per pound and reached their highest level since March 9.

April feeder cattle finished 0.975 cent firmer at 198.200 cents per pound after touching their highest price since March 10.

Wholesale boxed beef prices weakened, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said.

In the hog market, front-month April futures ended 0.975 cent lower at 76.775 cents per pound. June hogs fell 1.900 cents to 90.825 cents per pound as weak cash prices weighed on futures, analysts said.

Hog traders on Thursday will review quarterly USDA data that analysts expect will show the nation's herd on March 1 was 0.2% bigger than a year earlier. Larger-than-expected hog slaughtering indicate the government has previously underreported the herd's size, analysts said.

"We're basically seeing clear evidence that the December report undercounted numbers for the springtime and also likely summer," Nelson said.

Meatpackers slaughtered an estimated 477,000 hogs on Wednesday, compared with 478,000 hogs a week ago and 479,000 hogs a year earlier, the USDA said.

Separately, the USDA priced the pork carcass cutout at $80.26 per hundredweight (cwt), up 26 cents. Belly values climbed by $7.85 to $91.49 per cwt.

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