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LIVESTOCK-CME cattle futures end lower, hogs higher ahead of holiday weekend

CHICAGO, April 14 (Reuters) - Benchmark live cattle futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange fell on Thursday as traders booked profits after a three-session climb and ahead of a long holiday weekend, traders said.

U.S. markets, including the CME, will be closed for Good Friday.

But cattle futures came off their session lows and hog futures ended mostly higher, with both markets finding support as brokers anticipated a seasonal rise in consumer demand for pricy cuts of meat.

“As a general rule, red meat demand picks up after Easter, with warmer weather and the holidays. People anticipate the onset of grilling season and increasing domestic red meat demand,” said Dan Norcini, an independent livestock trader.

The Mother’s Day and Memorial Day holidays in May tend to kick off the U.S. grilling season, he noted.

CME June live cattle futures settled down 0.450 cent at 136.425 cents per pound, paring losses after a dip to 135.900 cents. May feeder cattle futures ended down 0.175 cent at 161.775 cents per pound.

Cash cattle markets were quiet on Thursday after market-ready cattle traded in the southern Plains earlier in the week at $139 per hundredweight (cwt), up $1 from the bulk of last week’s trades.

Wholesale beef prices eased for a second day after rising for most of the last five weeks. The USDA reported choice cuts down 50 cents at $271.86 per cwt.

CME June lean hogs settled up 0.875 cent at 118.475 cents per pound.

U.S. wholesale pork prices firmed. The USDA reported the pork carcass value at $108.90 per cwt on Thursday afternoon, up 37 cents from Wednesday.

The USDA reported export sales of U.S. pork in the week ended April 7 at 24,000 tonnes, down 26% from the prior four-week average. Mexico and Japan were the top buyers, while China booked 4,000 tonnes.

Weekly beef export sales totaled 17,200 tonnes, down 18% from the prior four-week average, the USDA said. (Reporting by Julie Ingwersen; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)

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