Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange cattle and hog futures weakened Wednesday, with live cattle sagging to their lowest in three months on sluggish cash market activity, traders said.
The hog market was pressured by concerns about demand in China, where high prices have slowed the consumption of pork.
CME December live cattle settled down 0.9 cent at 128.65 cents/lb. after hitting 123.675 cents, its lowest since June 9 (all figures US$).
October feeder cattle dropped 0.775 cent to 159.275 cents/lb., touching its lowest since July 19.
Beef prices eased, with choice cuts of boxed beef down 33 cents, to $334.86 per hundredweight (cwt), while select cuts falling $3.73, to $298.17/cwt, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.
Margins for beef packers were about $890.40 per head of cattle, down from $904.75 on Tuesday and $943 a week earlier, according to livestock marketing advisory service HedgersEdge.com.
The Biden administration plans to take a tougher stance toward meatpacking companies it says are causing sticker shock at grocery stores.
The administration will funnel $1.4 billion in COVID-19 pandemic stimulus money to small meat producers and workers, administration aides said in a blog post. They also promised action to “crack down on illegal price fixing.”
CME lean hog futures ended lower, with the most-active October contract settling down 0.725 cent at 87.375 cents/lb.
— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago.