LIVESTOCK-Profit-taking, technical selling pressure hogs, live cattle futures

CHICAGO, April 24 (Reuters) - U.S. hog and live cattle futures eased on Friday, with end-of-week profit-taking and technical selling pressuring the livestock markets, traders said.

Strong consumer demand for pork underpinned the hog futures, which rose 17.4% this week.

“The pork product markets continue to scream higher and have begun to pull lean hog futures alongside,” INTL FCStone said in a note to clients.

Lean hog futures for June delivery dipped 0.1 cent to 51.525 cents per pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The contract hit its highest since April 8 before closing off its highs.

Smithfield Foods Inc said on Friday it will suspend operations at its Monmouth, Illinois pork processing facility next week after some employees tested positive for COVID-19. The plant represents about 3% of U.S. fresh pork supplies.

CME June live cattle fell 0.3 cent to 82.625 cents per pound. The contract firmed early in the session but turned lower after hitting resistance at its five-day moving average.

August feeder cattle futures rose 0.25 cent to 126.4 cents per pound.

After the close, the U.S. Agriculture Department said that the amount of cattle in U.S. feedlots as of April 1 was 95% of the year-earlier total. That matched market forecasts.

The amount of cattle marketed during March was 113% of the March 2019 total, topping market estimates for 111.8%. But monthly placements were 23% lower than March 2019. Analysts had been expecting placements to fall 21%.

The monthly report will be seen as bullish to the market, reflecting good demand even though the supply chain is strained due to the coronavirus pandemic, said Josh Steinhilber, a broker at (Reporting by Mark Weinraub Editing by Marguerita Choy)