January 24, 2018 / 11:24 PM / a year ago

LIVESTOCK-Cattle rises to near two-month high on beef gains, fund buying

    By Michael Hirtzer
    CHICAGO, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Live cattle futures        
climbed to a near two-month high on Wednesday, rising for the
third straight session on firm beef prices and investment fund
buying, traders and analysts said.
    A reduced rate of cattle slaughter following a winter storm
in the U.S. Plains that disrupted the transportation of animals
earlier this week forced some meat buyers to scramble to find
what they needed, bolstering prices.
    Front-month Chicago Mercantile Exchange February live cattle
       finished up 0.700 cent at 125.425 cents per pound, rising
to the highest level since Nov. 30. Most-active CME April live
cattle        was up 0.350 cent to 125.150 cents.
    Choice-grade wholesale beef gained $1.14 to $207.99 per cwt,
according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
    "We got a big slug of snow, which has affected the (cattle)
prices and propped the beef up," said Kevin Bost, president of
Procurement Strategies Inc. "The funds have been good buyers and
that's always a strong influence."
    Live cattle futures have gained in eight of the past nine
trading session while open interest increased to the largest
since early December, an indication that funds and other
investors were making new long bets during the rally.
    No sales were recorded on Wednesday at the weekly Fed Cattle
Exchange online auction in which 494 cattle were offered,
according to the auction website.
    The USDA in a monthly Cold Storage report released after the
close of futures trading said 489.5 million pounds of beef were
in U.S. freezers as of Dec. 31. That was up from 485.2 million
pounds at the end of November but below analyst estimates for
504.3 million pounds.             
    There were 490.8 million pounds of pork in cold storage,
below stocks in November of 502.3 million pounds and nearly even
with analyst estimates for 490.2 million pounds.
    CME February lean hog futures        were up 0.675 cent at
72.925 cents per pound and most-active April hogs        up
1.050 cents to 75.700, with each rising in part on technical
buying after prices surpassed moving averages. 
    A drop in the dollar        to the lowest since 2014 against
a basket of currencies also made U.S. goods such as pork and
beef comparatively cheaper in global markets       
    CME March feeder cattle futures        settled 0.575 cent
lower at 146.400 cents per pound, with that contract hitting
upside resistance at its 100-day moving average.

 (Reporting by Michael Hirtzer in Chicago, editing by G Crosse)
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