Despite continued weakness in wholesale beef values and talk of increased feedlot showlists this week, which in turn might bode ill for country fed cattle prices, 2013 live cattle futures rose modestly Thursday. The general advance may have marked an industry response to a strong upward move by the equity markets, which in turn came in response to a better than expected result on the weekly Jobless Claims report. Nearby futures could prove vulnerable to weaker cash trading Friday, but the cattle industry is still closely focused upon the potential for an extreme cattle/beef shortage in 2013. December cattle inched 0.10 cent higher to 126.25 cents/pound, while the more heavily traded February future advanced 0.57 cents to 131.20 cents/pound.
Concerns about seasonal weakness across the hog and pork complex caused CME lean hog futures to dive Thursday. Mid-December hog slaughter typically proves extremely large, whereas grocers routinely complete their ham purchases for the holiday season at about the same time. Those factors could undercut swine prices badly as a consequence, especially if pork loins follow their pattern of early-winter weakness from the past few years. The fact that hog and pork prices have risen dramatically from a late-summer low may also bode rather ill for early-winter pork demand. The expiring December contract fell 1.55 cents to 83.40 cents/pound during the morning hours, while the February future dropped 1.20 cents to 84.40 cents/pound.