Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures fell on Friday on technical selling and expectations of a seasonal uptick in beef supplies as the pace of cattle slaughter increases, analysts said.
“(There is) a little concern that we might have posted the smallest supply of the year, and now we are facing higher numbers ahead,” said Rich Nelson, chief strategist for Allendale Inc.
Lacklustre cash cattle markets added to bearish sentiment. Cash cattle traded mostly at $126-$127/cwt this week at feedlots in Texas, Kansas and Nebraska, down $1-$2 from deals a week earlier.
“We are struggling on the cash side, on feeders and fats, so the market just struggled to carry a bid throughout the day,” said analyst Craig VanDyke of Top Third Ag Marketing.
Others noted malaise on Wall Street, where major indexes posted losses for the week as U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to impose import tariffs on steel and aluminum rattled investors.
Declines in equity markets can influence consumer demand for high-end cuts of beef.
Most-active CME April live cattle settled down 1.15 cents at 122.175 cents/lb. after dipping to 121.9, the contract’s lowest since Jan. 17.
CME April feeder cattle settled down 1.475 cents at 145.275 cents/lb. and front-month March feeders fell 1.375 cents to 143.675.
CME nearby hog futures closed higher, gaining against back months, with April lean hogs up 0.6 cent at 67.575 cents/lb.
April hogs narrowed their discount to the June, one day after hitting the widest discount in the life of the spread, a move some saw as a supportive technical signal for futures.
“That is telling to me that we are trying to find a short-term low,” VanDyke said.
The pork cutout that tracks values of cuts such as hams and bellies was up $0.73 from the previous afternoon to $78.11/cwt.
— Julie Ingwersen is a commodities correspondent for Reuters in Chicago.