LIVESTOCK-Fund liquidation drops U.S. live cattle futures

Wed Feb 20, 2013 3:48pm EST
 
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* Disappointing cash prices exert more pressure
    * Feeder cattle follow lower live cattle market
    * Hog futures mixed; weak cash prices, spreads

    By Theopolis Waters
    CHICAGO, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Chicago Mercantile Exchange live
cattle futures slumped Wednesday on active fund liquidation and
disappointing preliminary cash cattle prices, analysts and
traders said.
    "Funds, not just in the cattle but in some of the other
markets, are showing an unwillingness to embrace a bullish story
on commodities right now," said U.S. Commodities president Don
Roose said.  
    CME spot February live cattle closed at 125.100
cents per lb, down 1.300 cents. April ended 1.325 cents
lower at 128.225 cents.
    Live cattle futures have transitioned from a market that was
encouraged by premiums to one needing to prove that the premiums
are warranted, said Roose.
    Futures' selloff may have prompted some feedlots to sell
cattle in the cash market, offsetting expectations for
steady-to-higher cash due to wintry weather in parts of the U.S.
Plains. 
    Extremely low temperatures and heavy snow typically slow the
movement of livestock to market which underpins cash prices in
the near term. 
    On Wednesday, cash cattle in Texas traded at $123 per cwt,
steady with last week. Cash bids elsewhere in the Plains stood
at $123 against $125 or higher asking prices, feedlot sources
said.
    Packers are pushing back against higher cash prices because
of unprofitable margins and lackluster wholesale beef demand.
    The U.S. Department of Agriculture showed the wholesale
price for choice beef on Wednesday morning at $182.91 per cwt,
up 44 cents from Tuesday; select cuts slipped 4 cents to
$180.84.
    HedgersEdge.com put the average beef packer margin for
Wednesday at a negative $52.60 per head, compared with a
negative $69.55 on Tuesday and a negative $73.95 on Feb. 13.
    CME feeder cattle closed down sharply, and earlier fell to
their 3-cent daily price limit, on fund liquidation and live
cattle market losses. 
    March feeders closed down 2.450 cents per lb to
140.725 cents. April closed at 143.600 cents, 2.575
cents lower.

    HOGS MIXED ON SPREADS
    Hog futures settled mixed as lower cash hog prices pressured
April futures and fueled bearish spreads, traders and analysts
said.    
    Packers cut cash hog bids to recover lost margins and drive
up wholesale pork values, a trader said.
    USDA data showed the average price for hogs in the
most-watched Iowa/Minnesota market Wednesday morning at $78.67
per cwt, down 62 cents from Tuesday.
    The average pork packer margin for Wednesday was at a
negative $3.30 per head, compared with a negative $10 on Tuesday
and a negative $9.50 on Feb. 13, according to HedgersEdge.com.
    Firmer corn prices prompted bearish hog spreads with the
view producers may resist expanding their herds if corn prices
remained relatively high, traders said. 
    April hogs ended at 82.950 cents per lb, down 0.100
cent and June closed up 0.375 cent to 92.350 cents.