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DTN Midday Livestock Comments          04/17 11:54

   Limited Volume Keeps Prices Mixed

   Sluggish market activity is seen in all livestock markets with cattle prices 
mixed in a narrow to moderate range while hog trade has broken away from early 
nearby pressure.

By Rick Kment
DTN Analyst

General Comments

   Mixed trade is holding in cattle and hog futures midday Wednesday following 
limited volume. Early pressure in nearby lean hog futures quickly eroded, 
allowing for renewed sense of market stability as traders focus on current 
fundamentals. Firm gains have continued to hold in deferred lean hog futures as 
traders anticipate Chinese buying to support the complex both short and long 
term. It is expected that activity through the end of the week will remain 
subdued as traders prepare for the long Easter weekend. Futures trade will 
remain closed Friday. Corn futures are lower in light trade. May corn futures 
are 1 1/4 cent lower. Stock markets are lower in light trade. Dow Jones is 14 
points lower with Nasdaq down 6 points. 


   Morning trade in live cattle futures have bounced higher and lower in a 
narrow to moderate range. The firming market shifts early in the week is 
creating some great opportunities traders to adjust nearby positions as they 
take profits due to limited trade volume. Underlying firmness is seen in 
deferred futures trade with late 2019 and early 2020 contracts trading steady 
to moderately higher. The focus on higher cash trade starting to trickle into 
the market is expected to limit overall losses, but may not create significant 
buyer interest. Light cash cattle trade is starting to develop in Texas at $126 
per cwt. This is $2 per cwt higher than last week. This is the 
fourth-consecutive week that cash cattle trade started to develop on Wednesday. 
It is uncertain just how much additional trade will be seen through the day, 
but both sides are likely to try to wrap things up earlier than later, getting 
business done before Good Friday. Limited bids in other areas are seen at $126 
to $127 live, with no dressed bids yet developing. Asking prices are holding at 
$130 live and $208 dressed. Boxed Beef cut-outs at midday are mixed, $1.10 
lower (select) and up $0.55 per cwt (choice) with active movement of 108 total 
loads reported (63 loads of choice cuts, 13 loads of select cuts, 8 loads of 
trimmings, 24 loads of ground beef).


   Light trade is seen in all cattle futures with prices hovering in a mixed 
range from 37 cents lower to 27 cents higher. Firm early-week buyer activity 
seen in all cattle markets is allowing for nearby contracts to adjust positions 
in front of the extended holiday weekend as overall volume is expected to 
remain sluggish over the next couple of days. Futures trade will remain closed 
Friday, in observance of Good Friday. 


   Wide price swings seen through the morning seem to have cooled at midday 
with prices hovering in a moderately but still mixed trading range. June and 
July futures continue to shift lower with prices 7 to 35 cents lower, but a 
long ways from the $2 per cwt losses seen during early trade. Underlying follow 
through buyer support continues to develop in deferred contracts with prices in 
late 2019 and early 2020 leading the charge. This adds even more uncertainty as 
most of this buying is based on the long-term demand coming from China as they 
fill their need for pork. Cash prices are lower on the National Direct morning 
cash hog report. The weighted average price fell $0.07 at $77.31 per cwt with 
the range from $70.00 to $80.00, on 4,740 head reported sold. Cash prices are 
unreported due to confidentiality on the Iowa/Minnesota Direct morning cash hog 
report. Pork values surged higher in limited volume. Pork cutouts added $1.89 
per cwt at $88.42 per cwt with 152 loads traded. Lean hog index for 4/15 is 
$79.84 up 0.27, with a projected two-day index is $80.24 up 0.40.

   Rick Kment can be reached at rick.kment@dtn.com 


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