Cattle Futures Stumble After Quiet Auction

By Benjamin Parkin Features Dow Jones Newswires

Cattle futures closed lower after hitting an 11-week high earlier in Wednesday's session.

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Futures rose earlier this week in anticipation of higher cash prices for slaughter-ready cattle. Sales didn't materialize Wednesday morning, however, as meatpackers and feedyards haggled over bids.

Meatpackers didn't buy any cattle at the weekly online Fed Cattle Exchange auction, which is often seen as a benchmark for trade later in the week. Market observers said meatpackers were offering $111 per 100 pounds live in Texas and Kansas, steady with last week, while feedyards were asking for $115 and $116.

The deadlock prompted traders to ease off further buying and lock in some profits while they waited for a cash-market direction to emerge.

Live cattle futures for October delivery fell 0.5% to $1.13025 a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, after touching $1.143 -- the highest point since Aug. 7 -- earlier in the session. Feeder cattle futures were mixed.

Prices have risen despite a backdrop of growing cattle supplies. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said last week feedyards placed more cattle in lots for fattening in September than expected, meaning supplies of slaughter-ready animals will likely swell early next year.

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But demand for beef has been better than expected, analysts say, easing the burden. Wholesale beef prices rose above $200 per 100 pounds this week for the first time since early August.

Hog futures were higher. CME December lean hog contracts rose 0.7% to 64.475 cents a pound.

The hog market has bounced off a late September low on rising cash and pork prices. Supplies are growing, as producers raise larger herds and meatpackers build up frozen meat stocks.

Analysts say demand will need to continue rising to stave off oversupply.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 25, 2017 15:29 ET (19:29 GMT)