Price pressure has slowed through the morning Thursday with traders focusing on renewed fundamental support that has been built over the next couple of days. Live cattle futures are mixed at midday as buyer support in moving back into front month spot contracts, creating interest through the rest of the complex. Lean hog futures are still sharply lower, but have retracted a large portion of the initial market losses as sellers become less aggressive as the session continues. Corn markets are lower in light trade. March corn futures are 1/2 cent lower. Stock markets are lower in active trade. Dow Jones is 550 points lower with Nasdaq down 70 points.
Mixed trade at midday Thursday in nearby live cattle futures is a welcome relief to the complex which posted moderate to strong losses through the entire morning. December contracts are holding a 5 to 10 cent per cwt gain as limited buyer activity is seen through the complex with increased overall support seen in all markets. The rest of the complex is hovering in a very limited market range, steady to 30 cents lower with potential additional buyer activity moving into the complex through the end of the trading session. Any trade agreement worries will continue to be more significant in the pork complex than beef markets due to the relationship with China. Cash cattle activity still remains sluggish, although packer interest is started to increase bids through the morning. Bids are seen at $112 to $114 per cwt live basis, although dressed bids are still hard to find in most areas Thursday morning. Asking prices remain at $120 to $122 per cwt live and $190 dressed. It is likely to be Friday before active trade develops. Boxed Beef cut-outs at midday are mixed, $1.20 higher (select) and down $0.43 per cwt (choice) with light movement of 57 total loads reported (34 loads of choice cuts, 11 loads of select cuts, 4 loads of trimmings, 7 loads of ground beef).
Firm pressure continues to be seen Thursday midday, although prices have quickly backed away from triple-digit losses. January futures are holding losses of 55 cents per cwt with prices hovering just under $145 per cwt. This overall weakness continues to focus on the bearish tone in all markets Thursday and is not expected to change over the near future. The limited support is starting to move higher in late morning trade, but this is helping to bring stability to the entire complex.
Triple-digit losses continue to be seen in nearby lean hog futures with prices steadily moving away from initial session lows but still carries a bearish market tone. February futures are trading $1.40 per cwt lower, over $1 per cwt off of earlier lows, as traders seem to be back pedaling from the initial concerns surrounding political reactions from China. It will be interesting to see just how much news coverage and positioning is being placed on the arrest of the Chinese executive and if this will affect the tone of trade talks going forward. The fact that China would back away from the table is the main driver of the aggressive market losses Thursday morning. Cash prices are higher on the National Direct morning cash hog report. The weighted average price is $0.33 higher at $47.88 per cwt with the range from $44.00 to $48.52 on 5,084 head reported sold. Cash prices are higher on the Iowa/Minnesota Direct morning cash hog report. The weighted average price is $0.53 higher at $47.38 per cwt with the range from $44.00 to $48.25 on 2,413 head reported sold. Pork carcass values fell $0.11 per cwt at $71.59 per cwt on 183 loads. Lean hog index for 12/04 is $56.40, up 0.02, with a projected two-day index is $56.19, down 0.21.
Rick Kment can be reached at email@example.com
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