December 31, 2018 / 9:00 PM / 8 months ago

LIVESTOCK-Cattle futures weaken on profit-taking, hogs firmer

    By Michael Hirtzer
    CHICAGO, Dec 31 (Reuters) - U.S. live cattle futures        
finished slightly lower on Monday as traders locked in profits
in end-of-year position squaring, after prices earlier touched
contract highs, traders said.
    Lean hog futures         were mostly higher, buoyed by
short-covering and position squaring on the final trading day of
the month, quarter and year.
    Cattle futures climbed for much of last week due to harsh
winter weather in the U.S. Plains that muddied some feedlots,
hampered shipments of animals and slowed weight gains as
temperatures dropped.
    The weather issues contributed to higher prices in cash
cattle markets, with slaughter steers fetching about $123 per
cwt in trades after futures markets were closed on Friday. The
U.S. Department of Agriculture pegged volume of cattle traded in
the cash cattle market last week at 86,273 head, up from 82,546
the previous week and 77,624 a year ago.         
    Midwest Marketing Solutions broker Brian Hoops said that
with the storms moving out of the region, beef packers might not
have to bid as aggressively to buy cattle.
    "The forecasts are a little better this week, so we probably
will not get that push," Hoops said.
    Most-active Chicago Mercantile Exchange February cattle
        settled down 0.300 cent to 123.875 cents per pound,
after earlier reaching a contract peak of 124.950 cents.
    Cattle on a continuous chart        climbed 1.5 percent for
the year, the second straight annual gain.
    "We pushed to some new highs in cattle and faded back,"
Hoops added.
    Feeder cattle futures         also eased on Monday, giving
back a small portion of recent gains. Most-active March feeders
        were down 0.125 cent to 146.750 cents per pound. Feeder
futures        for the year were about 2 percent higher.
    Meanwhile, hog prices were firmer in technically driven
trade after declining for much of the last week.
    February lean hog futures         settled up 0.325 cent at
60.975 cents per pound.
    Hogs on a continuous chart lost about 15 percent for the
year, under pressure from record-large U.S. supplies and trade
wars that impeded American pork exports to top markets including
Mexico and China.

 (Reporting by Michael Hirtzer
Editing by Leslie Adler)
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