Livestock Futures Drift Lower

By Benjamin Parkin Features Dow Jones Newswires

Livestock futures mostly started the week lower as traders waited for a direction in the cash trade.

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Prices for cattle and hogs fell in last week's cash market, as growing herd sizes and seasonal pressures like waning beef consumption gave meatpackers more bargaining power.

Packers were expected to bid mostly 50 cents to $1 lower for hogs in Monday's cash trade. Meanwhile, they paid an average of $1.1716 a pound live and $1.8749 a pound dressed last week for cattle, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The cash cattle trade typically doesn't take off until after Wednesday morning's online Fed Cattle Exchange auction.

"Everybody is trying to figure out where the cash is going to be," Jason Britt, president of brokerage Central States Commodities in Kansas City, Mo., said of the cattle market. Mr. Britt said some meatpacker demand for cattle ahead of Labor Day in early September could support prices.

Downward momentum continued to weigh on livestock futures on Monday, however. Live cattle contracts for August delivery fell 0.8% to $1.12 a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, while feeder cattle futures were mixed. Wholesale beef prices were steady as of midday.

CME August lean hog futures fell 1.4% to 80.3 cents a pound. Wholesale pork prices, however, were higher as of midday.

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In a note to clients, the Steiner Consulting Group said that wholesale beef prices and live cattle futures have a historical tendency to reverse course at this time of year. August- and October-dated live cattle contracts have risen in the first week of August for six of the previous seven years.

Write to Benjamin Parkin at benjamin.parkin@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 31, 2017 15:07 ET (19:07 GMT)