* Live cattle finishes higher
* Feeder cattle closes firmer
By Theopolis Waters
CHICAGO, Feb 7 Chicago Mercantile Exchange
February lean hogs on Tuesday scored a fresh contract high, and
deferred months scored new monthly tops, led by brisk wholesale
pork demand cash price optimism, said traders.
February hogs ended 1.025 cents per lb higher at
72.375 cents, and hit a new contract high of 72.800 cents.
April ended 0.950 cent higher at 72.175 cents, its
highest level since mid-June.
Tuesday morning's U.S. Department of Agriculture data showed
the average wholesale pork price, or cutout, climbed 92 cents
per cwt to $86.05 from Monday, helped by $3 higher ribs.
Prices for slaughter-ready, or cash, hogs in the U.S.
Midwest on Tuesday morning were steady to $1 per cwt higher,
according to regional hog merchants.
"You've got good pork demand and packer margins close to $30
per head. They (packers) have money to spend, so they've got
room to buy hogs if they want them," a Midwest hog dealer said.
He pinned higher pork cutout values on restaurant and
grocery store meat purchases in preparation for Valentine's Day
HIGHER LIVE CATTLE CLOSE
CME live cattle futures closed higher, with strength from
buy stops and technical buying, said traders.
February live cattle closed 1.250 cents per pound
higher at 117.675 cents, and April up 0.875 to 116.500
Both contracts punched through their respective 10-day
moving average of 117.213 and 115.950 cents.
Investors focused on $116 per cwt cash cattle bids in Texas
and Kansas. They were consistent with bids there last week but
down $3 from last week's sales in the U.S. Plains.
Market bulls see early-week cash bids as a sign that some
packers might be short on inventory.
Bearish traders expect packers will pay less for cattle by
trimming slaughter rates, which could help improve their margins
and lift wholesale beef values.
The trade awaits Wednesday's Fed Cattle Auction of roughly
6,200 animals for cash price direction. Animals there last week
brought $119 per cwt.
HedgersEdge.com calculated Tuesday's average beef packer
margins at a negative $57.50 per head, up from negative $59.75
on Monday, as calculated by HedgersEdge.com.
Tuesday morning's choice wholesale beef price was up 12
cents per cwt to $191.35. Select cuts dropped 71 cents to
$189.94, the USDA said.
CME live cattle futures buying and strong cash feeder cattle
prices sent the exchange's feeder cattle contracts higher.
March feeders closed up 0.700 cent per pound to
(Reporting by Theopolis Waters; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)