CME Live Cattle Up 3rd Straight Session But Off Highs

Chicago Mercantile Exchange nearby live cattle futures on Thursday rose for a third straight day, led by bullish market fundamentals before profit-taking pulled contracts from new highs, said traders.

June settled 1.250 cent per pound higher at 131.300 cents, and spiked by its 4.500-cent expanded trading limit and a new high of 134.550 cents. August ended up 0.375 cent to 124.175 cents, and hit a high of 127.500 cents.

On Friday CME live cattle will resume its normal 3.000-cent price limit after failing to settle up or down the 4.500-cent expanded limit on Thursday.

Thursday morning's average wholesale beef price, or cutout, climbed $1.25 per cwt to $233.84. Select cuts were up 43 cents to $215.32, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said.

Packers this week paid $140 to $147 per cwt for market-ready, or cash, cattle that last week brought $134 to $140.

Last weekend's snowstorm in the U.S. Plains, which disrupted livestock movement, and tight packer inventories drove up cash prices and supported nearby futures, said KIS Futures vice president Lane Broadbent.

Spring grilling and grocers finalizing Mother's Day meat purchases helped boost beef cutout values, said analysts and traders.

An analyst said brisk beef demand could slow given increased year-over-year beef production. And beef prices historically tend to taper off beginning around late May, he added.

Profit-taking sank feeder cattle futures that earlier on Thursday peaked at new highs. After failing to settle up or down its expanded 6.750-cents limit, feeders will resume their normal 4.500-cents trading limit on Friday.

May feeder cattle ended 5.025 cents per pound lower at 148.275 cents, and made a new high of 156.750 cents.

Hogs Settle Higher

Rising cash and wholesale pork prices lifted CME lean hog contracts into bullish territory for a third consecutive session and to six-week highs, said traders.

They said technical buying provided more hog futures support.

Thinly-traded May closed 1.050 cents per pound higher at 69.000 cents. Most actively traded June ended 0.925 cent higher at 76.475 cents and topped the 100-day moving average of 76.124 cents.

Some processors raised cash bids while capitalizing on their still profitable, but slipping, margins, said traders. They also expect hog numbers to begin tightening seasonally, which may support cash prices.

They said a few grocers are buying pork for the U.S. Memorial Day holiday, the unofficial start of the summer grilling season.