Cattle fall most in 1-1/2 weeks as beef prices tumble

U.S. live cattle futures fell the most in 1-1/2 weeks on Wednesday in a selloff linked to lackluster demand from meat packers and government data that showed the lowest wholesale beef prices in four years, traders said.

Feeder cattle futures dropped the most so far this month while lean hogs declined to a 14-year low before rebounding slightly, as abundant U.S. meat supplies continued weigh on livestock futures at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Live cattle futures extended losses in relatively heavy trading volumes at midday, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed sharply lower beef prices. Choice-grade wholesale beef at the end of the trading day was down $2.86 at $178.44 per cwt, lowest since 2012.

CME December live cattle futures settled 2.100 cents lower at 97.125 cents per lb and was holding above the six-year lows reached last week.

"There's just not a lot of positive news out there," said Doug Houghton, analyst at brokerage Brock Associates.

Packers earlier were not aggressively bidding to buy slaughter-weight cattle that feedlots were offering at $100 to $102 per cwt, following cash cattle trades last week of $97 to $98.

Traders also were beginning to square their positions in advance of USDA's monthly Cattle on Feed report on Friday afternoon.

Analysts polled by Reuters expected USDA to show cattle placed on feed in September up 3.6 percent from the same month last year.

CME November feeder cattle futures eased 3.200 cents to 114.825 cents per lb, further pressured by a spike in corn futures that could raise animal feed costs for ranchers fattening cattle for slaughter.

CME December lean hogs settled 0.050 cent higher at 41.175 cents per lb.

The contract earlier fell to a lifetime low of 40.700 cents per lb, the lowest level on a continuous chart since 2002.

U.S. hog production is expected to be record-high this year, and supplies could outpace pork packers' capacity to slaughter the animals.

Top global pork producer Smithfield Foods, a division of China's WH Group, late on Wednesday said operations were back to normal at facilities in North Carolina after hog slaughter was disrupted by Hurricane Matthew.


Latest News

Winter cattle feeding
Cash Cattle Weaker As Grain Rallies

Cash cattle prices slipped lower throughout the week as packer demand was called moderate. Grain markets posted a significant rally on the heels of USDA's report on Tuesday.

2 hours ago
Packing plant workers
Fired Tyson Managers: ‘Betting Pool’ Stories Distorted

Former Tyson Foods Waterloo, Iowa, plant managers dispute claims of how an "office pool" regarding COVID-19 was portrayed in news stories and deny it was about how many employees would contract the virus.

1 hour ago
Dream Lake with Hallett Peak in the background, at Rocky Mountain National Park.
Hi-Plains Researchers To Help Protect Rocky Mountain National Park

A Texas A&M AgriLife team will work with the Colorado Livestock Association and other stakeholders to refine and evaluate practices to reduce agricultural ammonia emissions into Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park.

12 min ago
AL Ranch
Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. Launches “MBA NextGen”

MBA NextGen updates the popular MBA training modules making it easier than ever for a new generation of farmers and ranchers to share their story and advocate knowledgeably for the beef industry.

8 min ago
Greg Henderson
Overall Meat Sales Higher In 2020

Meat sales - both dollar values and volume - were significantly higher in 2020. Those gains, however, came at the expense of a crippled restaurant and food service industry that may take years to recover.

9 min ago
Progressive Beef
Progressive Beef and Wendy’s® Advance Partnership

Wendy's announces 15% increase in percentage of beef sourced through Progressive Beef-certified producers in 2020; on track to meet goal of at least 50% this year.

14 min ago