CHICAGO — Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures firmed on Friday on bargain buying a day after setting one-month lows, and as traders squared positions ahead of monthly feedlot data released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture after the close of trading.
CME February live cattle settled up 0.675 cent at 156.625 cents per pound, and most-active April ended up 0.800 cent at 159.925 cents per pound.
CME March feeder cattle futures rose 0.875 cent to settle at 180.975 cents per pound.
Soft cash cattle markets hung over futures, capping rallies. Market-ready cattle traded in Kansas and Texas this week at $155 per hundredweight (cwt), down $1 from the bulk of last week’s trades.
But wholesale beef values inched higher, with choice cuts
After the CME close, the USDA reported the number of cattle in U.S. feedlots as of Jan. 1 at 11.682 million head, down 3% from a year ago, while analysts surveyed by Reuters on average had expected a slightly larger decline of 3.2%. Cattle placements in December were down 8% from a year ago, while analysts on average had expected a 9% decline.
“Compared to what trade expected, it (the USDA’s report) probably had a slightly bearish tone,” said Austin Schroeder, commodity analyst with Nebraska-based Brugler Marketing. However, he noted, cattle futures already declined in the days leading up to the report, a factor that could mute any market impact on Monday.
CME lean hog futures closed higher, pausing after selling off for most of the last four weeks.
February lean hog futures ended up 1.175 cents at 77.825 cents per pound. Most-active April hogs rose 1.325 cents to 85.725 cents per pound, a day after recording a 3-1/2 month low at 84.075 cents.
Wholesale pork prices rose, extending a bounce from two-year lows set this week. The USDA quoted the pork carcass cutout