CME live cattle futures firm; hogs trade mixed
May 8 (Reuters) - Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle gained slightly on Thursday, supported by short-covering and futures' discount to last week's cash prices, traders said. * Thursday is the second of five days in which funds that follow the Standard & Poor's Goldman Sachs Commodity Index will sell, or "roll," their June long CME live cattle and hog positions into deferred months. * U.S. Department of Agriculture export data on Thursday for the week ended May 1 showed U.S. beef sales at 12,500 tonnes, mostly to Japan, compared with 11,400 tonnes the week before. * At 8:18 a.m. CDT (1318 GMT), June was up 0.200 cent per lb at 137.775 cents, and August gained 0.100 cent to 137.500 cents. * Investors are anticipating market-ready, or cash, cattle to trade steady to lower this week. * More animals are for sale and some packers have cut slaughter rates to conserve margins, an analyst said. * Soft wholesale beef demand could work against cash cattle returns, he said. * Cash cattle bids in Texas and Kansas stood at $144 per hundredweight (cwt), feedlot sources said. * Last week, cash cattle in Texas and Kansas sold at $146 per cwt, with sales of $147 to $150 in Nebraska. * FEEDER CATTLE - May was at 183.500 cents, up 0.475 cent per lb, and August was 0.650 cents higher at 191.325. * Modest CME live cattle gains and weak corn prices lifted feeder cattle futures. * LEAN HOGS - May lean hogs were at 114.625 cents per lb, down 0.600 cent. Most actively traded June was up 0.100 cent at 121.275 cents. * Wednesday's lower cash hog and wholesale pork prices pressured the May CME hog contract, traders said. * Packers have met their supply needs for this week, and grocers are buying pork hand-to-mouth for spring grilling advertisements, a trader said. * Mechanical problems idled an eastern Midwest hog plant, which could take about 10,000 head out of the total U.S slaughter, traders and hog dealers said. * Speculators bought remaining hog futures in anticipation of tight supplies as the deadly Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus spreads on U.S. hog farms. * Investors are looking for pork demand to pick up to accommodate outdoor cookouts after Mother's Day, he said. * USDA's export data showed U.S. pork sales at 9,600 tonnes, mostly to Mexico, compared with 9,800 tonnes the week before. (Reporting by Theopolis Waters in Chicago; Additional reporting by Meredith Davis; editing by Peter Galloway)
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