LIVESTOCK-CME live cattle futures drop on profit-taking; lean hogs fall

Credit: REUTERS/© Ross Courtney / Reuters

By P.J. Huffstutter

CHICAGO, Dec 30 (Reuters) - Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures fell on Thursday on profit-taking after a previous session rally resulted in several contracts hitting new highs, traders said.

CME February live cattle LCG2 settled down 0.750 cent at 139.975 cents per pound.

Feeder cattle futures, which were supported by a slump in Chicago corn futures Cv1, saw the most-active March FCH2 settle up 0.950 cent to 169 cents per pound, and spot January feeders FCF2 rise 0.450 cent to end at 166.325 cents.

Cash cattle prices continued to firm, trading at $140-$141 per hundredweight (cwt), $2 to $3 higher than last week, traders said. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Thursday reported a top cash cattle price of $142.50 this week.

"I'd expect prices to be firmer, ramping up (slaughter) schedules (after the holidays)," said Cassie Fish, livestock analyst and author at the blog, The Beef.

Wholesale boxed beef prices slipped, with choice cuts down 65 cents at $265.06 per cwt, and select cuts up 80 cents at $257.89 per cwt, according to USDA.

Profit margins for beef processors on Thursday eased slightly to $234.50 per head of cattle from $234.60 on Wednesday, but firmly up from $203.20 a week ago, according to livestock marketing advisory service HedgersEdge. LIV/H

On the hog side, CME lean hog futures also slipped. The benchmark February hog contract LHG2 settled down 1.125 cents at 82.700 cents per pound.

U.S. beef sales for 2021 totaled 6,300 metric tons, a 48% drop on the week, according to USDA weekly export sales data.

But beef sales firmed for 2022, as buyers shift focus to next year, traders said.

U.S. pork export sales for 2021 were down 89% from the previous week, at 3,200 metric tons. But 2022 sales were a hefty 35,900 metric tons, with China as the top buyer and rolling over a big chunk of its 2021 pork purchases.

(Additional reporting by Julie Ingwersen in Chicago; Editing by Maju Samuel)

((; 313-484-5275 (w); On Twitter @pjhuffstutter; Reuters Messaging:

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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