CHICAGO (Dow Jones)--U.S. livestock rose Friday after government data continued to fuel buying and higher cash prices for live animals supported cattle.
Cattle for August delivery rose 1.45 cents, or 1.2%, to $1.179 a pound in trading at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. CME October rose 1.37 cents, or 1.6%, to 89.47 cents a pound. Feeder cattle for August rose 0.9% to $1.3585 a pound.
A slew of U.S. Department of Agriculture data again supported prices. Two reports on Thursday pointed to tighter supplies in 2011 and 2012, accompanied by climbing U.S. meat demand from foreign buyers. A Friday report of USDA data showed U.S. beef exports up 25% over January-to-June of 2010; pork exports to China in June rose 81%, compared with a year ago, as China continues to grapple with heavily inflated food costs.
Futures also found support in Thursday's late-afternoon cash cattle trade, in which packers paid higher prices for animals as compared with last week. Brokers say the packers are gearing up for a rise in meat demand after Labor Day, when cooler temperatures typically entice consumers to grill more meat.
Only a few additional cash cattle sales were reported in Nebraska Friday at prices generally steady with the bulk of the week's trades on Thursday, which were higher than last week by 2.5 to 7 cents.
Sales this week on a dressed basis were mostly up seven cents a pound from a week ago with the majority at $1.85 a pound. A few sold as low as $1.82 and up to $1.86 a pound. Live sales were from $1.155 to $1.17 a pound, 2.5 cents to 3.5 cents a pound higher than a week ago.
In Texas/western Oklahoma and Kansas, cattle sold at mostly $1.16 a pound on a live basis, up four cents and three cents, respectively, from a week ago.
USDA's midday boxed beef price quote for choice grade carcasses was up $1.53 to $179.56 a hundred pounds. Select beef prices rose $2.00 to $176.07 a hundred pounds. Sales were reported at 120 total loads. If the midday gains hold through the afternoon, beef prices will be at a fresh three-week high for choice and a one-month high for select.
The latest HedgersEdge packer margin index was plus $28.70 a head, compared with $20.20 the previous day. The average for the week was plus $22.59. This is an estimate of packer returns on cattle slaughtered and processed expressed in the form of an index.