LIVESTOCK-Cattle, hogs end mostly lower as broader commodities markets tumble

CHICAGO, March 18 (Reuters) - Chicago Mercantile Exchange cattle and hog futures posted steep losses in most contracts on Thursday as a broad-based commodities market selloff, led by sinking crude oil and a firmer U.S. dollar, weighed on prices.

Fundamental factors for both cattle and hogs remained solid amid strong beef and pork exports and good domestic meat demand as restaurants ease coronavirus pandemic restrictions and retailers stock up for the outdoor grilling season.

Concerns about inflation, however, have stoked some concerns about limited spending on costlier steaks and chops.

After early-session gains, the outside-market pressure triggered profit taking in livestock contracts that have recently posted new highs.

“When we started to see a setback in the outside markets and the U.S. dollar rallied, these markets started to crumble. We were a little top heavy coming in,” said Karl Setzer, commodity risk analyst with AgriVisor.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange April live cattle futures shed 0.850 cent to settle at 118.575 cents per pound. Actively traded June live cattle notched a contract high of 122.700 cents early in the day but closed out the session down 2.375 cents at 119.650 cents. August 2021 through February 2022 also posted life-of-contract highs but closed lower.

April feeder cattle ended down 3.225 cents at 141.425 cents per pound, while May through October posted contract highs but ended the day lower.

April lean hog futures, the only CME livestock contract that finished the day higher, gained 0.625 cent to 94.300 cents per pound, the highest for a front-month contract since October 2014. Most-active June futures dropped 2.300 cents to 100.025 cents.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported net beef export sales at 25,936 tonnes in the week ended March 11, the most in six weeks. Net pork sales in the week totaled 39,717 tonnes, continuing a series of strong sales led largely by accelerated Chinese purchases. (Reporting by Karl Plume; Editing by Will Dunham)