INDIANAPOLIS, June 16 (Reuters) - Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures were mixed on Thursday, with nearby contracts firming, while the most-active cattle futures eased pressured by inflationary concerns, though markets remain underpinned by tight cattle supplies across much of the U.S. Plains, analysts said.
“The weakness comes from the uncertainty of the economy – how well is the consumer holding up and what is the future of demand,” said Scott Varilek, broker at Kooima, Kooima, Varilek Trading Inc.
Wholesale beef prices eased for the fourth consecutive day, with choice cuts falling $1.06 to $267.16 per cwt and select cuts losing 30 cents to $245.38, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.
At the CME, June live cattle settled up 0.200 cents at 137.750 cents per pound, while the most-active August contract eased 0.500 cents to 136.300 cents per pound.
CME August feeder cattle lost 1.975 cents to settle at 171.300 cents per pound.
Despite easing consumer demand, Varilek said packers are actively pulling cattle forward to keep slaughter lines running, which is supportive to futures and cash cattle, which traded in the Northern U.S. Plains above $145 per hundredweight, according to the USDA, while southern plains cattle brought $140 per cwt.
Beef slaughter pace so far this week was ahead of the same week last year at 495,000 head, but lagged last week’s pace of 503,000 head.
Hog futures were supported as supplies of market-ready hogs continue to struggle, Varilek said.
CME July lean hog futures added 1.300 cents to 109.575 cents per pound, while most-active August hogs added 1.700 cents to 106.025 cents per pound.
The CME Lean Hog Index, a two-day weighted average of cash hog prices, firmed 44 cents to $108.57 per cwt.
Strong export sales added support, with U.S. exporters selling 27,600 tonnes of pork during the week ended June 9, up 65% from the previous week and up 1% from the prior 4-week average, the USDA said. (Reporting by Christopher Walljasper; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)
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