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Hog futures mostly lower with pork down at midday

Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures were sharply lower, following the lead of feeders, despite another higher move in boxed beef at midday and light, but steady to higher, direct business in the south. December was down $1.65 at $118.10 and February was $1.47 lower at $124.10.

Feeder cattle were down sharply on technical selling. November lost $2.22 to $145.57 and January dropped $4.30 to $142.82.

Direct cash cattle markets were mostly quiet. Light trade was reported mainly at $115 live in Kansas and Texas, steady to $1 higher than last week’s weighted average. Asking prices were $117 to $118 live and $185 to $188 dressed, with a few bids at $115 live in Kansas, but widespread direct business will wait until Thursday or Friday. This week’s offering at the Fed Cattle Exchange was 1,393 head, 0 sold.

Boxed beef closed higher on good demand for light offerings. Choice was up $1.84 at $242.34 and Select was $1.30 higher at $217.53. The estimated cattle slaughter of 118,000 head was unchanged on the week and down 2,000 on the year.

At the St. Joseph Stockyards feeder cattle sale in Missouri, compared to the previous week, steer and heifer calves weighing less than 450 pounds were steady to firm, while calves weighing more than 450 pounds were $2 to $5 lower. Unweaned offerings weighing more than 450 pounds were down $6 to $8 and yearlings were untested. The USDA says the smaller offering was because of the bitterly cold conditions earlier in the week with moderate demand. 51% of the offering were steers and 80% of the run weighed less than 600 pounds. Medium and Large 1 feeder steers weighing 400 to 500 pounds sold at $166.50 to $185.50 and 500 to 600-pound steers ranged from $151 to $176. Medium and Large 1 feeder heifers weighing 400 to 500 pounds were reported at $139 to $155 and 500 to 600-pound heifers brought $131 to $142.50.

Lean hog futures were mostly lower on spread trade, profit taking, and the lower midday move in pork. Commercial selling and spillover from cattle were additional features. Futures didn’t have much of a reaction to news U.S./China trade talks have stalled. December was down $1.60 at $63.12 and February was $1.00 lower at $74.55.

Cash hogs were steady to lower with a sizable closing negotiated run for the major direct markets. Buyers were able to reapply leverage, using the market ready supplies and trying to make up for Monday’s slow slaughter. Weather delays are still possible in parts of the region. There continues to be a lot of uncertainty about the trade deal with China. The deal appears to be in jeopardy again, with reports of an impasse over Chinese purchases of U.S. ag goods and U.S. resistance to rolling back tariffs. The average Iowa/Southern Minnesota barrow and gilt weight last week was 287.9 pounds, up 1.2 on the week and 3.9 on the year.

Pork closed $1.51 lower at $87.02. Loins, butts, ribs, and hams were all down sharply. Picnics and bellies were higher. The estimated hog slaughter of 492,000 head was steady on the week and up 12,000 on the year.

National direct barrows and gilts closed $.49 lower at $40 to $43.09 with a weighted average of $42.24, while Iowa/Southern Minnesota was down $.76 at $41.86 and the Western Corn Belt was $.76 lower at $41.85. Butcher hogs at the Midwest cash markets were steady at $34. Illinois direct sows were steady at $26 to $41 on moderate demand for heavy offerings. Barrows and gilts were steady at $25 to $30, also with moderate demand for heavy offerings. Boars ranged from $8 to $12.

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