CHICAGO (Dow Jones)--U.S. livestock futures rose Friday in light volume as traders covered short positions and squared books ahead of the Labor Day weekend break from trading.
CME cattle for October delivery closed up 1.2 cents, or 1.1%, to $1.148 a pound in trading at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. CME December cattle traded higher by 1.05 cents, or 0.9%, to $1.1647 a pound. Feeder cattle for September fell 0.1 cent, or 0.1%, to $1.3265 a pound.
Brokers said recent selloffs in both the pork and beef complexes enticed investors to cover short positions and square away books before exchange trading paused for the three-day Labor Day weekend.
Prices were supported in part by still-quiet cash cattle markets, which remained stalled through midday Friday. Producers are demanding higher prices from meat packers, who are enjoying healthy profits from historically high beef prices. Owners have been asking for prices that are roughly steady with last week despite the fact that packers are flush with supplies for next week's slaughter schedule. Near-term beef demand, too, has sagged as the East Coast recovers from Hurricane Irene.
The latest HedgersEdge packer margin index is plus 14.75 for hogs with a weekly average of plus 10.82 and the packer margin index for cattle is plus 35.35 and the weekly average is plus 52.82.
Prices also rose despite growing concerns about the U.S. economy as well as more softness in beef prices.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was recently down 273 points to 11220 after the U.S. economy in August failed to add jobs for the first time in almost a year, the Labor Department said Friday.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported choice grade beef prices at midday were down 22 cents to $181.58 a hundredweight. Select beef was down $1.63 to $173.04 on 118 loads.
Cash cattle markets were almost entirely quiet throughout the day after a light trade in Nebraska took place at mostly steady prices. Packers are sticking to bids at prices lower than last week and some dealers expected them to wait until late afternoon or later to strike deals with sellers.
Cattle changed hands in Nebraska at $1.81 a pound on a dressed basis, or about steady with last week. Packers have been bidding $1.10 to $1.11 a pound in Texas and Kansas, while cattle feeders there have been asking for $1.14 or higher.