U.S. livestock: CME live cattle slip on softer cash, beef prices

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures on Thursday reversed some of Wednesday’s gains, led by weaker cash and wholesale beef values, traders said.

Some market participants tweaked positions before Friday’s U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) monthly Cattle on Feed report.

“We saw a small rally yesterday, and a steady opening today, that got sold because of tomorrow’s report that’s expected to be pretty bearish,” said Midwest Marketing Solutions analyst Brian Hoops.

December live cattle finished 0.65 cent/lb. lower at 119.55 cents, and February ended down 0.625 cent to 125.125 cents (all figures US$).

This week slaughter-ready, or cash, cattle in the U.S. Plains fetched mostly $119/cwt, down from $122-$125 a week ago, said feedlot sources.

Processors balked at paying more for cattle given their declining margins and plant closures over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Cash prices were further pressured by beef demand that tends to struggle at a time when ham and turkey garner the retail spotlight during the year-end holidays.

Export sales is another indication that meat demand has slowed, which is affecting the cattle and hog markets, said Hoops.

On Thursday, USDA’s export sales report for the week ended Nov. 9 showed U.S. beef exports at 9,300 tonnes, down 45 per cent from the week before and down 42 per cent versus the prior four-week average.

Live cattle future’s pullback and this week’s sharply lower cash feeder cattle prices pressured CME feeder cattle.

November feeder cattle closed down 0.225 cent/lb. to 157.775 cents.

Ample supplies drop hog futures

CME lean hogs fell on downward-trending cash prices that prompted some investors to sell the December contract and simultaneously buy deferred month, said traders,

December hogs ended 1.025 cents/lb. lower at 60.1 cents. February closed down 0.875 cent, to 66.575 cents.

“We’ve got a lot of holiday’s coming at us and we’ve got too much supply to offset lackluster demand. Packers have the upper hand right now,” said Hoops, regarding plant shutdowns over the Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s holidays.

Thursday’s USDA export sales report put U.S. pork exports at 13,200 tonnes, mostly to Japan. That was up 69 per cent from a week earlier, but down 16 per cent from the previous four-week average.

— Theopolis Waters reports on livestock markets for Reuters from Chicago.

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