CME live cattle, hog futures seen opening mixed
Dec 26 (Reuters) - CME live cattle futures were expected to open mixed on Thursday with investors awaiting this week's cash sales, traders and analysts said.
* USDA's weekly beef and pork export report will be delayed until Friday because of the Christmas holiday.
LIVE CATTLE - Called up 0.200 to down 0.200 cent per lb.
* Thin post-holiday trading volume and the lack of fundamental market news could result in a dull, choppy day of trading, an analyst said.
* There were no cash bids or asking prices reported by feedlot sources.
* Last week, cash cattle in the U.S. Plains fetched mostly $130 per cwt, feedlot sources said.
* Fewer cattle for sale this week and improved wholesale beef demand may underpin cash prices.
* Tuesday afternoon's wholesale choice beef price gained 17 cents per cwt to $196.86, and select climbed $1.46 to $191.98, based on USDA data.
* Back-to-back holiday-shortened work weeks and eroding packer margins are seen pressuring cash returns.
* Beef packer margins for Tuesday were at a negative $77.25 per head, compared with a negative $55.15 per head on Monday and a negative $41.00 per head a week ago.
FEEDER CATTLE - Seen 0.300 cent per lb lower to up 0.300 cent.
* CME feeder cattle could follow the possibly mixed live cattle futures market.
* LEAN HOGS - Called narrowly mixed.
* CME hog traders are seen adjusting positions before Friday's U.S. Department of Agriculture quarterly hogs report.
* Analysts said the U.S. hog herd likely declined in recent months due in part to a swine virus that is fatal to baby pigs, which should reduce pork production in the first half of 2014.
* Investors are mulling mixed fundamental signals after Tuesday's lower cash hog prices and higher wholesale pork values.
* Tuesday afternoon's average price of cash hogs in the Western Midwest region was $74.09 per cwt, $3.42 lower than on Monday, according to USDA.
* The government's Tuesday afternoon wholesale pork price, or cutout, rose 69 cents per cwt to $85.89, USDA said.
* Meat packers are not expected to actively buy hogs with plants closed at least one day each week during the year-end holidays, traders said.
* They said retailers are starting to book pork to feature after the New Year's Day holiday, lending support to the cutout. (Reporting by Theopolis Waters in Chicago; Editing by Chris Reese)
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