U.S. livestock: Cattle futures continue to slide on profit-taking

Traders weigh potential impacts of Texas Panhandle wildfire’s effects on cattle supply.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange feeder cattle futures fell again on Thursday, amid ongoing profit-taking as some market participants sought cover as cash prices continue to stay firm, traders said.

Pricing pressure in the cattle markets also came as spread traders continued to shift their positions, moving more to long-positions in hogs and short in cattle, analysts said.

But cattle futures bounced off their lows late in the session, as some traders weighed whether a wildfire raging in the Texas Panhandle may be further shrinking already tight domestic cattle supplies.

The Smokehouse Creek fire so far has destroyed grain in storage bins, burnt up more than one million acres of land and likely killed tens of thousands of livestock, state Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller said in an interview with Reuters on Thursday.

Meanwhile, lean hogs ended the session higher, with the July LHN24, August LHQ24 and October LHV24 contracts all setting new life-of-contract highs.

Red meat exports for the week were in line with last week, said Karl Setzer, partner with Consus Ag Consulting, with beef sales for the week ended Feb. 22 totaling 12,300 metric tons and Japan being the leading buyer.

Pork exports were 32,400 metric tons, with the bulk going to Mexico, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“There were small sales of each to China, but these were less than trade has been hoping for following the Lunar New Year,” Setzer said.

April feeder cattle FCJ24 closed 1.375 cents lower at 253.725 cents per pound. CME April live cattle LCJ24 fell 0.775 cent to end at 185.350 cents per pound.

April lean hogs LHJ24 settled up 0.625 cent at 86.625 cents per pound. June hogs LHM24 closed 0.650 cent higher at 100.200 cents per pound.