By Benjamin Parkin
Cattle futures inched higher amid early-week cash sales.
Meatpackers bought most of the cattle available at the online Fed Cattle Exchange auction on Wednesday morning for $126 per 100 pounds on a live basis, around $1 lower than last week's average. That followed on from some trades also at $126 on Tuesday.
Analysts say that a build up of cattle being fattened in feedlots will likely lead to swelling supplies of slaughter-ready cattle in the weeks to come. But showlists of available herds this week were little changed, they said, helping to steady the cash market. Feedyards were asking for as much as $130 for their animals, market observers said.
Wholesale beef prices, a sign of demand, were slightly lower at midday after rising for seven consecutive sessions to over $223 per 100 pounds. Analysts said prices may be approaching a seasonal top.
Cattle futures for April delivery rose 0.1% to $1.22975 a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The futures market has recently tumbled from mid-February highs on anticipation of growing supplies and chart signals that suggested to traders that prices were headed lower.
Hog futures fell. The cash market has recently steadied, rising on Monday and Tuesday after several weeks of losses. But a snowstorm on the east coast disrupted slaughterhouses in the region, observers said, which could weigh on prices.CME April lean hog futures fell 0.6% to 67.8 cents a pound.
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