Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures on Tuesday gained after triggering buy stops, spurred by the morning's wholesale beef price rebound, traders said.
Firmer wholesale beef values stirred bull spreads, in which traders bought February futures and simultaneously sold deferred months.
February live cattle finished 1.175 cents per pound higher at 124.725 cents. April ended up 0.825 cent at 124.800 cents.
Retailers scrambled to fill beef inventories after a recent winter storm in parts of the U.S. Plains shut down at least two packing plants on Monday, said analysts and traders. Those plants appeared to be running normally today, they said.
As warmer temperatures melt snow, cattle may not gain weight as quickly while exerting energy while moving around muddy feedlots, a trader said.
Some investors expect packers to pay about the same for cattle as last week given current futures prices, fewer animals for sale this week and tight supplies in parts of the Plains.
Processors last week paid mostly $123 per cwt for slaughter-ready, or cash, cattle in the Plains.
Participants await Wednesday's Fed Cattle Exchange sale of almost 500 animals. A handful of cattle there a week ago fetched $119.75 per cwt.
Investors await the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) monthly Cattle-On-Feed report on Friday.
USDA's monthly cold storage report will be released on Wednesday. It was delayed by one day due to the U.S. government shutdown.
Wednesday's cold storage data will include total beef and pork inventories for December.
A survey of analysts, on average, projected last month's total beef stocks at 504.3 million pounds and 490.2 million for pork.
Live cattle futures' advances and steady to higher cash feeder cattle prices lifted CME feeder cattle contracts, said traders.
January feeder cattle, which will expire on Thursday, closed up 0.725 cent per pound at 148.625 cents. Most actively traded March ended 1.150 cents higher at 146.975 cents.
Mostly Weaker Hog Futures
CME lean hogs settled mostly lower after some investors implemented bull spreads, guided by higher wholesale pork prices due to weather-related plant disruptions, said traders.
Near-term cash prices may soften after drifting snow and icy roads in the Western Corn Belt forced farmers to keep hogs on farms, which created a backlog of supplies.
February hogs settled up 0.450 cent per pound at 72.250 cents. April ended 0.475 cent lower at 74.650 cents, and May finished down 0.250 cent to 79.400 cents.