Cattle Futures Fall on Larger Beef Stocks

By Benjamin Parkin Features Dow Jones Newswires

Cattle futures fell after a government report showed rising stocks of beef.

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Most-active October live cattle contracts fell 1.4% to $1.06175 a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Wednesday, while feeder cattle futures were also lower.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Tuesday that beef stocks in commercial freezers in July totaled 430.43 million pounds, up 4% from the previous month. That was still 8% below the same time last year.

With beef prices already in a downtrend on softer demand, analysts say that adds to the pressure in the cattle market. A pound of wholesale beef fell to $1.9291 as of midday Wednesday, with prices down around a quarter since peaking in mid-June.

Cash prices for slaughter-ready cattle have also fallen. Meatpackers didn't buy any cattle at Wednesday morning's online Fed Cattle Exchange auction, the second-consecutive week without sales.

Feedyards have been unwilling to lower their asking prices to meet packers' bids, who analysts say are offering around $1.06 a pound live. Feedyards need to sell cattle at $1.085 a pound for August and $1.125 a pound for September in order to break even, according to CattleHedging.com.

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Hog futures, meanwhile, fell on Wednesday despite sliding frozen pork stocks, which analysts said was a boon to prices.

The USDA said in its Tuesday cold storage report that frozen pork reserves in July fell to 556.18 million pounds, down 1% from June and 7% from last year.

The reduction in stocks was largely down to continued record low reserves of frozen pork bellies, which have been depleted for much of the year. There were 17.55 million pounds of bellies in freezers in July, down 21% from June and 65% from a year earlier.

Lower pork stocks didn't stem falling meat prices. Wholesale pork fell at midday Wednesday, with bellies extending a slump of around 30% over the past month.

CME October lean hog futures fell 0.5% to 63.55 cents a pound.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 23, 2017 15:07 ET (19:07 GMT)