LIVESTOCK-Surging beef prices boost US live cattle futures

Mon Mar 4, 2013 6:01pm EST

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* More wintry weather brewing in parts of the Plains
    * Feeders follow firm live cattle, helped by lower corn
    * Hog futures' premiums trump mostly higher cash values

    By Theopolis Waters
    CHICAGO, March 4 (Reuters) - Chicago Mercantile Exchange
live cattle futures rose on Monday  after recent wintry weather
in the U.S. Plains trimmed cattle supplies and pushed up
wholesale beef prices, traders and analysts said.
    Investors also said another storm developing in the central
and western Midwest could create more problems at feedyards
where cattle are fattened for slaughter.
    Snow coupled with warmer temperatures later in the week
could turn feedlots muddy, making it difficult to sort and move
cattle, said Oak Investment Group president Joe Ocrant.
    "But the big news is that beef prices were on fire after
retailers and other meat buyers were caught short of supplies
after back-to-back storms last week," he said.
    The wholesale price for choice beef on Monday climbed $2.86
per cwt from Friday to $190.96; select cuts jumped $2.27 to
$188.08, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
    Investors were waiting for feedlots to tally the number of
cattle available for sale.
    Cash-basis cattle last week sold at $127 to $128 per cwt,
which was $3 to $5 higher than the previous week, feedlot
sources said.
    April live cattle closed at 130.350 cents per lb, up
0.400 cent. June ended up 0.450 cent at 125.550 cents.
    CME feeder cattle drew support from the higher live cattle
market and lower corn prices.
    March feeders settled 0.975 cent per lb higher at
142.525 cents. April ended at 144.725 cents, up 0.575
cent.

    HOGS SLUMP ON PREMIUMS           
    Hog futures closed lower due to their premiums to CME's lean
hog index at 78.87 cents, analysts and traders said.
    April hogs ended at 80.300 cents per lb, 0.825 cent
lower. June closed down 0.800 cent to 90.575 cents.
    But packers could raise bids for cash hogs in the near term
while padding inventories for this week's slaughter, a trader
said. 
    Investors are also watching wholesale pork prices for signs
of an uptrend as supermarkets purchase hams to feature for the
Easter holiday, he said. 
    He said higher wholesale pork values may also reflect
increased demand as the spring thaw ushers in grilling in parts
of the country.
    USDA data showed the average price for hogs in the
most-watched Iowa/Minnesota market on Monday at $76.87 per cwt,
$2.22 higher than Friday.
    The wholesale price for pork on Monday averaged $81.67 per
cwt, up 62 cents from Friday, according to USDA.
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