U.S. livestock: CME live cattle retreat with beef quotes

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures suffered sizable losses on Monday, with slumping wholesale beef values increasing the possibly of further cash price weakness ahead, traders said.

Spot December ended down 1.925 cents/lb., to 119.525 cents, and February 1.85 cents lower at 124.4 (all figures US$).

The Monday morning wholesale choice beef price sagged $1.05/cwt from Friday, to $201.45. Select cuts dropped $1.80, to $184.63, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data.

Packers are buying cattle for the next two weeks when plants are closed three to four days over the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, traders and analysts said.

Heavyweight cattle, record amounts of pork and year-end holiday consumer spending continue to soften wholesale beef demand, they said.

Last week, market-ready (cash) cattle in the U.S. Plains traded at $118 to $121/cwt, down as much as $6 from the previous week, feedlot sources said.

The only hope for cash prices at this point is recent snow and rain in parts of the Plains that might slow down animal weight gains, a trader said.

Late Friday’s cattle deliveries and the prospect of near-term cash weakness prompted bear spreading, in which investors sold the December contract and simultaneously bought deferred months.

Firm corn futures and the tumble in cash feeder cattle prices pulled CME feeder cattle lower. January finished 3.975 cents/lb. lower at 148.15.

Hogs down with live cattle futures

CME lean hogs felt pressure from live cattle market selling and anticipation of lower cash hog prices, traders said.

December futures settled at 55.55 cents, down 0.45 cent, after it expired at noon CT. It was nearly in line with the exchange’s hog index for Dec. 10 at 56.4 cents.

February, the new spot month, ended 0.425 cent lower at 60.125 cents.

Midwest cash hogs sold steady to 50 cents/cwt lower amid abundant supplies during the last full week of production for the year, dealers said.

“We’re trying to find a place for hogs from a seller who we typically don’t hear from. Whenever you get those kinds of phone calls, it means he can’t get them (hogs) in somewhere,” a Midwest dealer said.

The government estimated Monday’s slaughter at 441,000 head, the biggest one-day kill since 452,000 on April 13.

Theopolis Waters reports on livestock markets for Reuters from Chicago.

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