Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures dropped to their lowest prices in more than three weeks on Tuesday as boxed beef prices continued to weaken amid expectations for reduced demand, analysts said.
Lean hog futures also declined as traders adjusted positions on the last day of the month and ahead of the three-daily Labour Day holiday weekend, brokers said.
Beef prices normally top out just ahead of Labour Day, which is on Monday, as the summer grilling season comes to an end.
CME October live cattle ended down 1.425 cents at 126.9 cents/lb. and reached its lowest price since Aug. 6 (all figures US$). December live cattle fell 1.2 cents to 133.475 cents/lb.
October feeder cattle weakened 1.2 cents to 167.75 cents/lb. and touched its lowest price since Aug. 20.
Choice cuts of boxed beef slipped by 67 cents, to $342.11/cwt, from Monday, while select cuts dropped 52 cents, to $312.03/cwt, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Analysts said they hoped that export sales of U.S. beef would compensate for an expected slowdown in domestic demand after Labour Day.
Argentina extended beef export restrictions until the end of October, stoking tensions with the powerful farm sector as the government seeks to bolster domestic meat supply to help contain rising food prices.
In the pig market, CME October hogs settled 1.35 cents weaker at 88.8 cents/lb. The market pulled back after rising on Monday to its highest price since Aug. 4.
— Tom Polansek reports on agriculture and ag commodities for Reuters from Chicago.