Export Sales data had decidedly mixed effects on crop futures
Thursday afternoon news of rebounding cash prices seemed to provide a major shot of confidence for cattle market bulls, since prices have rebounded substantially from mid-week lows as a consequence. We suspect the apparent repudiation of a technical formation suggesting a major follow-through move to the downside also sparked fresh CME buying. On the other hand, the looming afternoon release of the monthly Cattle on Feed report holds the potential to shift sentiment once again, especially if December feedlot placements exceed the modest annual increase implied by wire service surveys. February cattle had gained 0.82 cents to 126.70 cents/pound around midsession Friday, while April was up 0.70 cents to 131.05.
Ongoing events seem to be supporting bullish hopes for the short-term hog outlook. For example, wire service reports suggested Friday morning that pork packers are short-bought in meeting their needs for next week, while slipping hog weights are reducing pork production per head and implying diminishing supplies available during the days ahead. Moreover, the CME lean hog index continues marching upward; it is expected to reach 88.28 cents/pound when the official exchange quote is released Monday morning. Thus, nearby futures seem somewhat underpriced. Given these conditions, the Friday morning slippage in Chicago prices was rather surprising. Bullish traders may be having second thoughts about their positions as a consequence. February hogs had slipped 0.27 cents to 86.77 cents/pound just before the lunch hour, while June futures had fallen 0.35 cents to 97.25.
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