DTN Livestock Open: Weaker Early Markets Expected

Limit losses in live cattle and lean hog futures trade Thursday has sparked questions about further technical and fundamental support in the complex. This is likely to lead to further end-of-the-week pressure early Friday morning.

Cattle: Steady with Midweek Trade Futures: Lower Live Equiv $165.08 -0.88*
Hogs: Steady Futures: Lower Lean Equiv $82.46 -1.42**
* based on formula estimating live cattle equivalent of gross packer revenue
** based on formula estimating lean hog equivalent of gross packer revenue


Cash cattle sales are expected to have wrapped up for the most part, although there could be a few deals trickling into the market Friday as feeders try to take advantage of the market gains from earlier in the week.

It will be interesting to see if packers will even float bids Friday, or wait to see what the next few market days have in store before they are back in the market. Given the early-week bullishness in all segments of the market, the focus on sustaining this momentum will be the main priority next week.

Futures trade is expected to remain weak with live cattle futures expected to be the main focus early Friday morning following sharp triple-digit losses that flooded the market Thursday. With lightly traded April contracts posting limit losses Thursday afternoon, expanded trading limits are available for all live cattle futures.

Feeder cattle futures still have normal trading limits of $4.50 per cwt as nearby contracts did not close limit lower Thursday. But the underlying pressure through the end of the week could spark some significant concerns through all cattle trade as traders look for renewed support in beef values going into the weekend.

More focus is being placed on the stability of retail demand in the near future that most of the panic buying by consumers and hoarding seems to have slowed in most areas. This is still expected to keep packers actively killing cattle, but the focus on upcoming demand over the next two to four weeks is likely to have a significant role in cattle futures prices in the near future.

Friday slaughter is expected at 120,000 head.

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