Lean hogs end mostly higher, cattle futures advance

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CHICAGO — Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) lean hog futures were mostly higher on Thursday on elevated pork prices and strong demand, although profit-taking clipped some of the gains, traders said.

Lightly traded June hog futures climbed to the highest for a spot month contract in nearly seven years. More actively traded nearby contracts eased as traders pocketed profits after life-of-contract highs earlier this week.

“Hogs are technically strong. They’re hugging contract highs. You still haven’t seen the pork cutout drop back much and demand is strong,” said Don Roose, president of U.S. Commodities.

June hogs ended up 0.500 cent at 122.450 cents per pound while July futures shed 0.175 cent to settle at 121.325 cents per pound. Nearly all deferred contracts were higher, gaining as much as 0.750 cent.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) quoted the wholesale pork carcass cutout down 33 cents at $134.05 per cwt on Thursday, just 89 cents below a seven-year peak notched on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, pork export sales remained strong, led by Chinese buying. The USDA reported net sales of 19,684 tonnes last week, including 8,132 tonnes to China.

CME live cattle futures inched higher on Thursday, supported by strong beef packer margins and elevated beef prices. Traders, however, are anticipating a seasonal pullback in demand for higher-priced beef cuts after the Father’s Day holiday.

The choice boxed beef cutout value dipped 40 cents to $338.25 per cwt, but the select cutout jumped $2.53 to $310.40 per cwt, according to the USDA.

The average beef packer margin rose to $896.65 per head on Thursday, up from $737.10 a month ago and just $385.30 a year ago, according to advisory service HedgersEdge.com.

August live cattle futures ended up 0.275 cent at 118.550 cents per pound. August feeder cattle gained 0.125 cent to settle at 148.400 cents per pound. (Reporting by Karl Plume)