LIVESTOCK-CME live cattle futures climb to 7-month high, hogs mostly firm

CHICAGO, Nov 25 (Reuters) - U.S. live cattle futures climbed to a seven-month high on Monday, supported by monthly U.S. feedlot data that was not as bearish as some had feared, traders said.

Traders also cited spillover strength from record highs on Wall Street equity markets and forecasts for a winter storm this week that could stress cattle in portions of the U.S. Plains.

February live cattle futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) settled up 1.300 cents at 125.150 cents per pound after reaching 125.825 cents, the contract’s highest since April 23. Front-month December ended up 1.025 cents at 119.700 cents.

CME January feeder cattle futures rose 2.700 cents to finish at 141.975 cents per pound.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday reported October placements of cattle in U.S. feedlots at 2.477 million head, up 10% from a year ago but just below the average trade estimate for an 11.4% increase.

“The report did not come out as bearish as anticipated,” said Jeff French, analyst with Top Third Ag Marketing in Chicago.

Strength in outside markets lent support. Each of Wall Street’s three major averages kicked off the trading week with record closes as signs pointed to progress between the United States and China on a trade truce.

“When you have the outside markets as strong as they are, it tends to spill over into the cattle market,” French said, noting that consumers are more likely to buy pricey cuts of beef when stock markets are strong.

Also supportive was the National Weather Service’s forecast that a storm would bring snow and high winds on Tuesday to the central Plains including Nebraska and Kansas, two major cattle feedlot states.

CME lean hog futures closed mostly firm.

Benchmark February lean hogs closed up 0.100 cent at 67.750 cents per pound, with back months posting larger advances, including April hogs up 0.175 cent at 73.875 cents.

Hog futures drew support from expected increases in weekly U.S. pork export sales figures after the USDA said on Monday that commodity exporters must disclose sales of hog carcasses, effective immediately.

Previously, the USDA told exporters to report sales of “muscle cuts.” Traders said it was unclear whether that included different types of carcasses.

China’s pork imports have nearly doubled this year as a fatal pig disease has decimated its herd and pushed prices of the country’s favorite meat to record highs.

China is buying U.S. hog carcasses from companies like WH Group’s Smithfield Foods because Chinese meat processors need entire animals, not just certain cuts, during the disease outbreak, according to analysts.

The USDA’s clarification of the reporting requirements should result in higher weekly pork sales figures, French said.

“I think that will affect exports drastically, when we get the new numbers with the carcasses in there,” French said. (Reporting by Julie Ingwersen Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)