Monday, March 4

Hog futures firm on shrinking basis; corn pressures cattle futures

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CHICAGO — Chicago Mercantile Exchange nearby lean hog futures ended up on Monday, as technical trading pushed the basis back up and the spread between futures and cash prices narrowed, traders said.

Meanwhile, live and feeder cattle futures slumped on the day, pressured by a rally in corn futures.

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Chicago Board of Trade corn futures firmed sharply on Monday, following a rally in wheat futures, which surged amid growing concerns that an escalation in the fighting between Russia and Ukraine could further disrupt grain shipments from Black Sea ports.

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But analysts and traders alike cautioned that the cattle market may be underestimating consumer demand going into the fourth quarter.

“There are signs that the cattle market may be getting ahead of itself and not worrying about demand enough,” said Don Roose, president of Iowa-based US Commodities.

The most-active CME December lean hog futures contract settled up 2.45 cents at 79.60 cents per lb. Front-month October hogs rose 0.800 cent to settle at 93.75 cents per lb.

CME October live cattle closed the day down 0.625 cent at 144.700 cents per lb and the most-active December contract settled down 1.050 cents to end at 147 cents.

CME November feeder cattle dropped 2.75 cents to finish at 172.875 cents per lb.

Meatpackers slaughtered an estimated 128,000 cattle on Monday, 1,000 more than a week ago and up from 118,000 cattle a year ago, the USDA said.

In the pork sector, packers killed an estimated 488,000 hogs. That compares with 465,000 hogs a week ago and 474,000 hogs a year ago. (Reporting by PJ Huffstutter; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)