U.S. livestock: Live cattle futures ease, demand picture foggy

Hogs up on firmer cash, pork prices

CME October 2020 live cattle with 20-, 50- and 100-day moving averages. (Barchart)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. live cattle futures fell again Thursday, the fourth consecutive step back after reaching a high not seen since early March.

“The rally last week was kind of counter-seasonal. You typically don’t rally the cattle in late July, early August, in the dog days of summer,” said Jeff French, an analyst at Top Third Ag Marketing. “There’s a little bit of a reluctance to push these futures higher.”

Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) August live cattle futures settled down 0.65 cent at 100.85 cents/lb. and October live cattle fell 1.125 cents to 104.6 cents/lb. (all figures US$).

CME August feeder cattle futures settled up 0.5 cent at 142.025 cents/lb., while September feeder cattle slid 0.1 cent to 143.175 cents/lb.

Cattle slaughter has picked up in recent weeks, trimming the backlog in cattle that has led to heavier carcass weights. But processors may be through the heaviest animals, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“They had been trending higher and higher, compared to last year, every week. But this week, we’ve kind of topped out, same as last week,” said French.

CME lean hog futures gained for a third straight session on Thursday on firming pork and cash hog prices.

August futures settled up 1.825 cents at 54.475 cents/lb. while October futures added 0.95 cent to 51.025 cents/lb.

“The backlog of hogs, the heavy hogs — it’s just old news. The market is digesting that. We’re starting to see pork product values, as well as cash prices edge higher, but it’s going to be an uphill battle,” said French.

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

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