Cattle Futures Fall to Multi-Week Low

By Benjamin Parkin Features Dow Jones Newswires

Cattle futures fell to a five-week low, marking a third consecutive session of losses driven by concerns about buoyant supplies.

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Live cattle contracts for December slid 0.7% to $1.16375 a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the lowest close since Oct. 27.

Analysts said that Monday's weakness was in part a continuation of selling from last week. Futures have fallen over 3% in the past three sessions, with investors reading trading patterns as an indication that prices were headed lower.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission said late last week that fund managers were reducing bets that live cattle contracts would rise. Funds trimmed their net long position by 3% to 120,083 futures and options in the week to Nov. 28, the CFTC said.

Don Roose, president of U.S. Commodities, said that part of the selling stemmed from worries that wholesalers wouldn't ramp up beef purchases approaching the holiday season.

"There is a concern that demand is going to stay soft," Mr. Roose said. "Beef looks kind of pricey compared to everything else."

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Wholesale beef prices fell through most of last week before turning higher on Friday and through midday Monday. A hundred pounds of beef cost $208.22, compared with $82.52 for pork.

Cash prices for physical cattle rose last week, though that didn't stem losses in the futures market. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said that meatpackers paid an average of $120.54 per 100 pounds for cattle on a live basis, and $189.91 for dressed.

Hog futures were mixed. The front-month CME December lean hog contract fell 0.5% to 64.95 cents a pound, while later months rose.

The CFTC said that funds also modestly reduced their net long position in the lean hog market last week.

Market observers expected cash hog prices to start the week mostly steady. Meatpackers paid less money for hogs last Friday, though prices were higher over the course of the week. The CME Lean Hog Index, which tracks the cash market, has risen for three consecutive days.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 04, 2017 15:16 ET (20:16 GMT)