CHICAGO, Dec 29 (Reuters) - Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle Friday closed lower on technical selling and caution before cash prices by day’s end - but not before futures initially hit a 7-week high, said traders.
Investors tweaked positions on the last session of 2017 for CME live cattle that gained 3.4 percent for the year.
December live cattle, which expired at noon CDT (1800 GMT), closed 1.550 cents per pound lower at 123.000 cents. Most actively traded February ended 0.700 cent lower at 121.550 cents.
This week packers in the U.S. Plains bid mostly $118 to $119 per cwt for slaughter-ready, or cash, cattle against $125 to $126 asking prices. Last week cash cattle brought $119 to $120.
Tight cattle supplies, improved beef packer profits and Friday’s firmer wholesale beef values are supportive cash price factors, said traders and analysts.
Frigid temperatures across the Plains may slow down cattle weight gains, making them less available to packers.
The industry has done a good job of aggressively moving cattle to market earlier than planned because of forecasts for increased supplies ahead, based on U.S. government reports, said KIS Futures vice president Lane Broadbent.
“If we continue to do that (pull cattle ahead), our future looks bright,” he said.
He said consumers will add high-end meat cuts to their shopping lists as long as the U.S. economy remains sound.
On Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s export sales report showed U.S. beef exports for the week ended Dec. 21 at 9,100 tonnes in the current marketing year and 12,700 tonnes for 2018.
Year-end positioning and technical buying lifted CME feeder cattle that finished the year up 12.2 percent.
January closed up 0.400 cent per pound to 146.000 cents.
Profit-taking and positioning as 2017 winds down dropped most CME hog futures from contract highs during the session, said traders.
February futures benefited from firmer wholesale pork values and possibly higher cash prices next week as packers prepare for post-New Year’s production, said traders.
Hog futures were up 8.2 percent for 2017.
February closed up 0.225 cent per pound to 71.775 cents. April ended down 0.050 cent to 75.650 cents, and spiked to a contract high of 76.325 cents. May finished down 0.075 cent to 80.000, and hit a high of 80.750 cents.
USDA’s export sales report put U.S. pork exports in the current marketing year at 16,600 tonnes, and 20,800 for the coming year. (Reporting by Theopolis Waters Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)