CME Livestock Outlook: Mostly Higher Hogs; Cattle Mainly Firm

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CHICAGO (Dow Jones)--Rising wholesale pork values could contribute to a mostly higher Chicago Mercantile Exchange hogs open Friday.

Wholesale pork prices Thursday jumped another $2.03 per hundredweight, which also returned pork packer margins to a profitable level. And generally steady rather than lower cash hog price calls might inspire bullish traders.

By the same token, spot-April could fluctuate within a narrow trading range as it prepares to expire on April 15. April and most-actively trade June are at bearish price premiums to CME's cash hog index, which might stir sporadic selling into possible rallies.

Also, April has a techncial Relative Strength Index reading of 77%. A contract's RSI signal over 70% means that month has become somewhat pricey and subject to a downward adjustment soon.

Technical charts also show June hogs hovering over the 82.67-cent 10-day moving average support area.

CME pork bellies may start the morning higher fueled by Thursday's $5 per hundredweight fresh belly price surge to $95.

Cattle Complex

Most pit-traded CME live cattle could open firm on potential short covering and traders absorbing this week's cash cattle price results while looking ahead to next week's cash trade.

Spot-April and actively-traded June were at bullish price discounts to cash-basis cattle this week that brought $98 to mostly $100. Some cattle in Nebraska moved at $101 to $102. The bulk of fed cattle last week sold for $96.

Bearish traders, however, contend cash cattle prices are close to topping out seasonally. They also insist that inconsistent wholesale beef prices and slipping beef packer profit margins might constrict next week's fed cattle returns.

Thursday's beef packer operating margin index was $34.05 per head, compared to $38.00 the previous day, as calculated by HedgersEdge.com.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Thursday evening boxed beef data, which reflects beef carcass values at the wholesale level, showed choice cuts up $0.33 per hundredweight, but select items slipped $0.06.

No live cattle deliveries were reported by CME late Thursday against the April contract that will expire on April 30.

Chartwise, June live cattle's 93.46-cents 20-day and 93.37 10-day moving averages serve as areas of support.

Feeder cattle at the exchange could open higher on possible profit taking by those who were recently short futures. Buying in the neighboring live cattle pit may spillover to feeder cattle.

And although feeder cattle are overpriced based on CME's feeder cattle index, the exchange's index recent rapid climb might motivate front-month feeder cattle bulls.

(To access the daily livestock market data recap report, keyword search for "Livestock Market Fundamental Data Recap.")


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




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