U.S. livestock: CME feeder cattle slide on higher feed costs

Cattle slaughter down on short week, JBS hack

CME August 2021 feeder cattle (candlesticks) with August 2021 live cattle and lean hogs (red and pink lines, left column). (Barchart)

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) feeder cattle futures slipped on Friday, weighing on live cattle as rising corn futures pushed feed prices higher.

“I think the downturn in feeders certainly was a factor,” said Altin Kalo, economist at Steiner Consulting Group. “I don’t see any other fundamental news out there that would call for the fed market to be down across the board.”

CME August feeder cattle closed 3.025 cents lower at 149.925 cents/lb., ending the week down 0.94 per cent (all figures US$).

Nearby August live cattle futures lost 0.45 cent to close at 118.075 cents/lb., losing 0.44 per cent for the week, while December live cattle fell 0.7 cent to 129.125 cents/lb.

The Chicago Board of Trade’s most-active corn futures gained 20-3/4 cents to $6.82-3/4 per bushel.

Cattle slaughter climbed to 119,000 head on Friday, though the weekly pace fell 26.05 per cent compared with a week prior, due in part to the shortened holiday week, but also to the cyber attack that shut down operations at meatpacker JBS for about two days earlier in the week.

“A day and a half of short production — it’s not enough to get producers backed up, but when you already have a situation where they are behind in marketing cattle, it certainly doesn’t help,” said Kalo.

Wholesale beef prices stepped back, with select cuts easing $1.43, to $311.73/cwt, while choice cuts fell $1.57, to $338.98 per cwt, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Hog futures continued to climb on Friday as demand led markets higher at a time of seasonally low supplies.

CME July lean hog futures added 1.6 cents to 120.6 cents/lb., gaining 1.05 per cent for the week. Nearly every contract found life-of-contract highs.

“That’s giving this market confidence,” said Kalo. “Some items continue to be in short supply – things like ribs are very tight.”

“The jury’s still out, whether we’ll be able to sustain these wholesale prices into July,” he said.

The CME lean hog index, a two-day weighted average of cash prices, gained 30 cents to $114.05/cwt.

Pork processors slaughtered 478,000 hogs on Friday, with 1.78 million hogs processed for the holiday-shortened week, down 24.49 per cent compared with the week prior.

— Christopher Walljasper reports on agriculture and ag commodities for Reuters from Chicago.

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