Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures gained for a second day in row on Friday, supported by follow-through buying after contracts settled up by their 3-cent-per-lb daily price limit on Thursday, said traders.
Investors also tweaked positions before Friday's U.S. Department of Agriculture monthly Cattle-On-Feed report at 2 p.m. CST (2000 GMT).
At the same time, the government will issue the monthly cold storage survey that will include December beef and pork inventories.
A few analysts, on average, estimated last month's cold storage total beef stocks at 527.7 mln lbs, and pork at 568.0 mln lbs.
Investors awaited the sale of market-ready, or cash, cattle by late on Friday with bids at $128 per cwt compared with asking prices of $134 to $135 from sellers.
Last week, cash cattle in the U.S. Plains fetched $132 to $134.
Market participants expected cash prices around $130 to $132 per cwt in response to the pullback in wholesale beef prices that trimmed packer profits.
Friday morning's wholesale choice beef price, or cutout, fell $2.24 per cwt from Thursday to $225.43. Select cuts dropped $2.10 to $220.98, according to USDA data.
Beef demand typically subsides this time of year through early February when grocers begin buying product to feature during the balance of the month.
Some retailers and restaurants in the Mid-Atlantic region may avoid having too much inventory on hand given the onset of a major winter storm that could later hurt meat sales, a trader said.
February live cattle closed 1.825 cents per lb higher at 132.075 cents, and April ended 1.900 cents higher at 133.075.
Technical buying and live cattle futures advances sent CME feeder cattle contracts higher. January closed up 0.750 cent per lb to 159.425 cents, and March ended 3.675 cents higher at 157.900.
WEAK HOG FUTURES SETTLEMENT
CME lean hogs were pressured by profit-taking and futures' premiums to the exchange's hog index for Jan. 20 at 57.20 cents, trader said.
Spot February finished 0.750 cent per lb lower at 63.000 cents, and April ended down 0.025 cent to 69.000 cents.
Upward-trending cash prices and the morning's firm wholesale pork values minimized futures losses.
Friday morning's cash hog prices in the Midwest were mostly 50 cents per cwt higher as processors cope with seasonally tight supplies, regional hog dealers said.
The government reported the morning's wholesale pork price at $74.53 per cwt, up 50 cents from Thursday.