Sluggish export sales pressured grain prices
Cattle futures were higher mainly on optimism that the fiscal cliff can be avoided. The outside markets are providing a boost. Concern about beef demand lingers. Weekly beef export sales were disappointing at 11,800 MT, down 23% from the previous week and 22% below the four week average. February cattle closed 45 points higher at $132.10.
Lean hog futures settled mixed on Thursday after getting off to a strong start. At midday hog futures were up across the board but cash prices weakened as the day went on and futures prices generally followed suit. The February contract settled at $87.13, down 45 cents but the June contract held on and settled up 20 cents at $101.28. That is a new life-of-contract high for the June contract. The December contract is still nearly $5 above the cash index which could put pressure on nearby futures in the near term.