December 21, 2017 / 9:21 PM / a year ago

LIVESTOCK-Consolidation lifts CME live cattle ahead of USDA report

    By Theopolis Waters
    CHICAGO, Dec 21 (Reuters) - Chicago Mercantile Exchange live
cattle futures on Thursday closed higher, after consolidation
and short-covering ahead of Friday's U.S. government cattle
report helped the market recoup some recent losses, traders
    Analysts, on average, expect the U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA) monthly Cattle-On-Feed report at 11 a.m. CST
(1700 GMT) to show 5.7 percent more cattle were placed in
feedlots last month than a year ago.              
    This was a back-and-fill type of session, with the market
backing up a bit from the recent downtrend, said Archer
Financial Services broker Dennis Smith.   
    Technical buying and this week's generally steady prices for
slaughter-ready, or cash, cattle contributed to futures
    December         live cattle closed up 0.225 cent per pound
to 119.625 cents. February         ended 0.725 cent higher at
119.675 cents, and above the 100-day moving average of 119.350
    This week cash cattle in the U.S. Plains traded from $119 to
$120 per cwt versus $118 to $120 a week earlier, according to
feedlot sources.
    Fewer cattle for sale than last week and tight supplies in
parts of the region helped underpin cash returns, traders and
analysts said.
    They said seasonally slow wholesale beef demand, and packing
plants set to close at least one day during the Christmas 
holiday, capped cash advances.           
    On Friday at 11 a.m. CST (1700 GMT) USDA will issue the
monthly cold storage report that will include November total
beef and pork inventories.
    A survey of analysts, on average, projected last month's
total beef stocks at 512.9 million pounds and 550.0 million for
    Short-covering, technical buying and live cattle futures
turnaround pulled up CME feeder cattle.
    January         feeder cattle closed 1.150 cents per pound
higher at 142.925 cents.

    CME lean hogs gained slightly on short-covering and
technical buying, despite lower cash prices, traders said.
    Some market participants tweaked positions before Friday
morning's USDA quarterly hog report, which analysts believe will
show more herd growth.             
    February         hogs settled up 0.200 cent per pound to
68.575 cents, and April         closed up 0.125 cent higher at
73.075 cents.
    Packers need fewer hogs with plants scheduled to shut down
over the Christmas holiday, said analysts and traders. Grocers
bought pork on an as-needed basis until they figure out how much
product sold over the holiday, they said.                

 (Reporting by Theopolis Waters; Editing by Leslie Adler)
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