March 8, 2018 / 8:49 PM / a year ago

LIVESTOCK-CME live cattle futures down, but off 7-week lows

    CHICAGO, March 8 (Reuters) - Chicago Mercantile Exchange
live cattle        slid to a seven-week bottom on Thursday, led
by fund liquidation, traders said.
    Futures' discount to this week's slaughter-ready, or cash,
cattle prices freed contracts from session lows, they said.
    April         closed 1.200 cents per pound at 121.775 cents.
June         finished 1.550 cents lower at 113.275 cents.  
    CME live cattle struggled to escape trade war fears despite
President Donald Trump dialing back talk of stiffer metal
tariffs for key U.S trading allies.             
    January U.S. beef exports accounted for roughly 12 percent
of total domestic production, and pork about 25 percent,
according to industry experts.
    "The backdrop of uncertainty in global trade, in the news
since late last week, hasn’t helped," said Cassandra Fish,
author of industry blog The Beef, referring to Thursday's cattle
futures selloff.
    "Some thought the hint yesterday by the White House that
Mexico and Canada might be exempt from any action would help a
cattle futures rally today; it did not," she said.
    Instead, futures found an ally in late-session buyers after
packers in Nebraska and Kansas paid $127 per cwt for cattle that
fetched $126 on Wednesday. 
    In the face of slumping futures prices, most feedlots
resisted selling cattle based on rising packer profits, said
traders and analysts.
    Thursday was the second of five days that funds in CME's
livestock markets that follow the Standard & Poor's Goldman
Sachs Commodity Index           sold, or "rolled," April futures
into the June contract.
    Technical selling, higher corn prices and CME live cattle
futures losses slammed the exchange's feeder cattle contracts. 
    March         feeders ended 2.025 cents per pound lower at
141.750 cents.
    Most CME lean hog contracts closed weaker on spillover
cattle market pressure and trade war concerns, said traders.
    Mexico and Canada are the top- and fourth-ranked markets for
U.S. pork by volume, said industry experts.
    April hogs drew support from higher cash prices, but
slumping wholesale pork values capped market advances.
    April hogs         closed up 0.275 cent per pound at 68.075
cents. May         finished down 0.250 cent at 72.350 cents, and
June         ended 0.350 cent lower at 78.250 cents.
    Packers raised bids for hogs to maintain market share and
take advantage of their good profits, a trader said.        
    Wholesale pork values were largely dragged down by sharply
lower pork belly prices to entice end-users to store product for
spring and summer use, he said.         

 (Reporting by Theopolis Waters
Editing by James Dalgleish)
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