U.S. livestock: Live cattle slip on weak cash outlook, lower beef

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures eased on Wednesday as a weak tone to the cash cattle market and lower beef prices anchored futures, traders said.

Lower equities markets also cast a shadow over cattle futures as the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell for a fourth consecutive day, raising concerns about slowing restaurant traffic as consumers curb spending.

Futures traders are awaiting more active cash cattle trade at U.S. Plains markets, where packers are not expected to buy as many cattle as normal this week because of slaughterhouse downtime next week during the Thanksgiving holiday.

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Some cash cattle lightly traded at midweek at $111-$112/cwt, down from sales at mostly $114 last week, although the bulk of sales have yet to occur (all figures US$).

“The futures market is still running a premium to the cash market and that pulled us down after a technical bounce yesterday,” said Don Roose, president of U.S. Commodities.

“Packers are buying cattle for a short kill week next week. That’s a limiting factor,” he said.

CME December live cattle settled 0.775 cent lower at 114.6 cents/lb. February futures fell 0.15 cent, to 118.6 cents.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday quoted the wholesale choice boxed beef cutout at $213.16/cwt, down 92 cents from Tuesday, and the select cutout down $1.80 at $197.18/cwt.

Feeder cattle futures ended mostly lower on spill-over pressure from weaker live cattle a day after a technical and short covering rally took prices up more than two per cent.

Actively traded January feeder cattle ended unchanged at 146.975 cents/lb., while March shed 0.325 cent to 143.8 cents.

Lean hog futures were mixed amid some support from worries over an expanding outbreak of African swine fever in China.

CME December hogs fell 0.3 cent to settle at 57 cents/lb., while the more active February hog contract was up 0.175 cent at 62.35 cents.

— Karl Plume reports on agriculture and ag commodities for Reuters from Chicago.

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