Livestock Futures End Week With Losses

By Benjamin Parkin Features Dow Jones Newswires

Cattle futures fell for the third consecutive day as lower red meat prices pressured the market.

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Most-active live cattle futures for October delivery fell 0.3% to $1.059 a pound on Friday at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Wholesale beef prices have traded below $2 a pound for the first time in months as of late last week. A pound of beef fell 1.88 cents to $1.9563 a pound on Thursday, and slid further as of midday Friday.

The falling cost of beef has had a ripple effect on the broader market, cutting into packer margins, which in turn has lowered cash-market prices and weighed down futures.

Packer margins for the week were at $63 a head, according to the HedgersEdge index. That was the lowest since mid-May.

Meatpackers, in turn, lowered their bids for cattle in the week's cash trade with feedlots. They bought a little over 70,000 cattle on Thursday for an average of $1.10 a pound live and $1.75 a pound dressed. That was mostly 5 cents a pound below last week on a live basis, cutting into feedlot's profitability.

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Hog futures, meanwhile, also fell. CME October lean hog futures dropped 1.2% to 66.125 cents a pound, trading at a three-month low.

Analysts say hog futures are under pressure after losing technical support. The correction started with a sharp drop in pork belly prices earlier this week.

A pound of pork belly meat fell to $1.8141 on Thursday. That prompted selling at the opening on Friday, though meat prices had turned higher as of midday.

An agreement between American and Argentine officials to re-open the South American country to U.S. exports after over two decades, announced by the White House on Thursday, had limited impact on prices.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 18, 2017 15:22 ET (19:22 GMT)