Cattle Futures Mixed as Traders Search for Seasonal Bottom

By Benjamin Parkin Features Dow Jones Newswires

Cattle futures drifted lower at the start of the week as traders consolidated after recent gains.

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The cattle market last week "found good demand on ideas that the cattle market has finally reached a delayed seasonal low," said Chicago-based research firm AgResource in a note to clients. "The beef market finally showed indications of stabilizing."

The cash-market was also steady last week, with live cattle sales averaging at $105 per 100 pounds and dressed sales at $166, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Futures were under pressure on Monday, though, as wholesale beef prices fell at midday. In the end, October live cattle contracts closed 0.1% lower at $1.072 a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

Traders were looking ahead to later this year when current burdensome supplies of slaughter-ready cattle ease, allowing feedlots to sell their cattle to meatpackers for more. The rate of placements in commercial feedlots for fattening in July slowed markedly to 3% year-over-year, according to USDA data released late last month.

Analysts said there is little indication that meatpackers will have difficulty finding cattle for slaughter in the near term, though.

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Hog futures, meanwhile, fell on Monday. CME October lean hog contracts dropped 0.9% to 61.575 cents a pound.

Analysts said hog traders have less to look forward to. Supplies continue large, said Ted Seifried, chief strategist at Chicago-based risk manager Zaner Group, and demand for pork will weaken ahead of Thanksgiving and the holiday season.

Wholesale pork prices rose at midday Monday, however, after falling on Friday.

Irma, which hit Florida as a hurricane on Sunday before weakening to a tropical storm Monday, had little impact on livestock supply. Analysts said Irma disrupted short-term meat demand as daily life in the state was upended.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 11, 2017 15:19 ET (19:19 GMT)