Cattle futures jump most in a year on short covering

Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures jumped their 3.000 cents daily price limit while feeder cattle also rose sharply as traders exited short positions on expectations for higher prices in cash cattle markets, traders said.

Lean hog futures were mostly higher, with all three livestock contracts rebounding from recent multiyear lows that were linked to abundant U.S. animal and meat supplies.

CME December live cattle futures settled 3.000 cents higher at 100.125 per lb, with the percentage gain of 3.12 the largest daily spike in more than a year.

Cattle have rallied since reaching a six-year low last week, even as a U.S. Department of Agriculture monthly report due on Friday was expected to show larger cattle supplies available for meat packers and as wholesale beef traded at the lowest levels since 2012.

"We're looking at profit-taking in the cattle," CHS Hedging analyst Steve Wagner said.

Technical buying also was noted after cattle futures surpassed their 10-day moving average.

Packers earlier boosted their bids to $98 per cwt for cattle in U.S. Plains cash markets while feedlots were offering cattle at $101 to $102, with trade potentially developing on Friday at prices higher than trades of $97 to $98 last week, feedlot sources said.

Choice-grade wholesale beef extended the steep losses posted on Wednesday, easing 55 cents to $177.89 per cwt, USDA said after the close of futures trading.

CME November feeder cattle settled 4.025 cents higher at 118.850 cents per lb, supported by a downturn in corn futures at the Chicago Board of Trade. Feeder cattle and corn prices typically move in opposite directions as higher grain prices can boost costs and lower demand from ranchers buying cows to fatten for slaughter on corn.

CME December lean hogs finished 0.075 cent lower at 41.100 cents per lb while many deferred contracts notched narrow gains.

Hog prices were consolidating after hitting 14-year lows on Wednesday as record-large U.S. hog and pork supplies continued to hang over the market.

Cash hog prices in the top market of Iowa and southern Minnesota were down slightly and wholesale pork prices eased 49 cents to $72.52 per cwt, according to the USDA.