CME Livestock Outlook: Mixed Hogs; Firm Cattle

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CHICAGO (Dow Jones)-Conflicting market fundamentals could yield mixed Chicago Mercantile Exchange hogs results at the start Wednesday.

Wholesale pork price's $0.88 per hundredweight relapse Tuesday that slashed pork packer margins is a negative market influence. But bullish traders may be moved by steady-to-firm cash hog calls driven by tight supplies.

Furthermore, the shrunken price difference between June and July hogs compared with CME's hog index should provide underlying front-month support.

The average weight of hogs in Iowa/southern Minnesota for last week was 269.9 pounds, up .6 pound from the week before and a 0.4-pound bump compared to a year ago, according to U.S. government weekly data.

The week-over-week hog weight increase in the upper Midwest was not enough to gauge producer marketings in the area, a CME hog trader said.

Technically, the June hog contract Tuesday settled inline with its 84.95-cents 20-day moving average. The 83.07 40-day moving average is June's next support level.

June also has to overcome 85.74 10-day moving average resistance.

July's 83.37 40-day moving average serves as an key area of support. The contract's 85.29 20-day moving average is a resistance obstacle.

CME pork bellies are seen higher on spillover from future's upswing Tuesday and that evening's bullish CME weekly belly storage report outcome. The data showed bellies were taken out of freezers last week at a time when product is usually stored for summer use.

The exchange reported 1.9 million pounds of bellies were removed from warehouses last week, compared with 1.3 million stored last year. The CME quoted last week's belly stocks at 34.3 million pounds versus 62.8 million a year ago.

Cattle Complex

Live cattle at the CME are expected firm on short-covering and traders accounting for this week's cash cattle sales.

Fed cattle sold for $98 to $99.50 per hundredweight, compared with $99 to $99.50 last week.

Although some of this week's cash cattle returns fell short of last week's results, April and June were bullishly underpriced compared with cash. Also, brisk wholesale beef sales and profitable packer margins are supportive market factors.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Tuesday evening boxed beef price data, which reflects wholesale beef values, showed choice cuts up $0.10 per hundredweight, and select items increased $0.63.

Operating margin index for beef packers for Tuesday was plus $57.65 per head, compared with plus $54.80 Monday, as calculated by HedgersEdge.com.

No live cattle deliveries were reported Monday by CME against the spot-April contract that will expire on April 30.

Charts show April above the 96.64 40-day moving average support level. The 98.36 20-day and 98.76 10-day moving averages are April resistance barriers.

June's 93.50 40-day moving average serves as an area of support. The contract's 94.27 20-day and 94.61 10-day moving averages are resistance targets.

CME feeder cattle is seen mixed given spot-April maneuvering before it expires on April 29. Losses from futures' selloff Tuesday could encounter short-covering Wednesday.

And while speculative buyers may zero in on front feeder cattle months' close price proximity to CME's feeder cattle index, others may be put off by back months that are overpriced based on that index.

April feeder's 112.23-cents 10-and-20-day moving average convergence is a support point.

May is between 112.84 10-day and 113.24 10-day and 20-day moving average support and resistance levels.

-By Theopolis Waters, Dow Jones Newswires; 312-347-4965; theopolis.waters@dowjones.com



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