U.S. livestock: Cattle fall on profit-taking reversal

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. live cattle and feeder cattle futures declined two per cent or more on Tuesday, reversing from earlier gains as traders took profits on concern that surging prices could hurt beef demand, traders and analysts said.

Lean hog futures were higher at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange but finished well off their session peaks, succumbing to pressure from the drop in cattle.

CME June live cattle futures settled 2.8 cents lower at 124.975 cents/lb. and August futures down 2.6 cents to 120.65 cents (all figures US$).

Investors continued to exit positions in June, rolling into deferred months on the third of the five-day roll for traders tracking Standard + Poor’s Goldman Sachs Commodity Index.

Cattle rose throughout most of April, hitting the highest levels in more than a year before falling sharply late last week.

Futures resumed their rally on Monday and the August contract appeared set to test last week’s high of 127.5 cents, before it turned lower.

“Funds are record-long in cattle and we are starting to see profit-taking,” said U.S. Commodities analyst Don Roose. “There’s a real concern on whether you can move the beef at these higher prices at a time of year demand is the best.”

Retailers were buying the meat they will put on sale during the U.S. Memorial Day holiday weekend at the end of May, the unofficial kickoff of the summer outdoor grilling season.

Wholesale beef prices are the highest since September 2015, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. Cheaper prices for pork and poultry could steal away market share from beef, Roose said.

CME August feeder cattle settled down their 4.5-cent price limit at 152.150 cents per pound.

CME June lean hogs were unchanged at 77.375 cents/lb. after earlier reaching 78.425, highest since March 16. July hogs were up 0.275 cent to 77.5 cents.

— Michael Hirtzer reports on commodity markets for Reuters from Chicago.

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