LIVESTOCK-U.S. cattle and hog futures sag on technical selling

CHICAGO, April 21 (Reuters) - U.S. cattle futures closed lower on Wednesday on lackluster cash markets, soaring feed costs and technical selling, traders said.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange June live cattle futures settled down 1.950 cents at 117.250 cents per pound, with chart-based selling accelerating as the contract fell below its 100-day moving average near 117.650 cents.

CME August feeder cattle futures ended down 2.600 cents at 151.925 cents per pound, pressured as Chicago Board of Trade corn futures neared an eight-year high above $6 a bushel, signaling higher cattle feed costs.

In the cash market, cattle traded in Texas and Kansas at $119 to $120 per cwt, steady to $1 lower than last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

“The market is waiting for any sort of positive news on the cash side, and so far there has not been much,” said Altin Kalo, economist at Steiner Consulting Group.

He noted that commodity funds hold net long positions in CME live cattle and lean hog futures, leaving both markets vulnerable to bouts of long liquidation.

Traders shrugged off support from robust wholesale beef prices. Choice cuts of boxed beef rose $2.20 at $280.46 per cwt on Wednesday, a 10-month high. Select cuts were up $1.41 at $271.88 per cwt, according to USDA data.

Hog futures fell on technical selling and long liquidation, despite firm cash hog prices. CME June lean hog futures settled down 1.825 cents at 104.525 cents per pound.

Worries about summertime demand for pork products hung over the market, Kalo said.

“The pork market overall has been driven by processing items; bellies and hams have been the big drivers. And there is a lot of uncertainty there. If (prices for) those items start to give, then that might present some risk for the summer,” Kalo said.

The U.S. pork cutout, an indication of wholesale pork prices, fell $1.39 at $113.64 per cwt on Wednesday afternoon, with pork belly prices down nearly $4.

Traders await the USDA’s weekly export sales report on Thursday and its monthly cattle-on-feed report on Friday. Analysts surveyed by Reuters on average expect the USDA to show a 33.7% increase in the number of cattle placed in U.S. feedlots in March compared with the previous year.

Reporting by Julie Ingwersen; Editing by Sam Holmes