Live Cattle Futures Ease

By FeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Cattle futures were mixed on Tuesday, easing off multimonth highs.

The futures market started the week by hitting a two-month high, after cash prices for physical cattle rose more than expected. But analysts say futures bumped up against selling pressure after falling from those highs, with chart signals suggesting to traders that prices were headed lower.

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February-dated live cattle contracts fell 0.7% to $1.24825 a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Futures for feeder cattle, younger animals that need to be fattened before slaughter, rose.

Some cash trade took place on Monday and Tuesday, earlier than usual. Meatpackers paid $126 per 100 pounds on a live basis for cattle from Kansas, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said, while some market observers pointed to further sales in Nebraska. Those prices were slightly below last week's average.

Analysts say which direction the bulk of this week's cash trade takes depends in part on what futures traders do over the coming days. Factors like extremely cold weather and snowstorms have helped tighten short-term supplies by slowing the rates at which cattle fatten, which could prompt higher cash prices again this week.

Hog futures were mixed. CME February lean hog contracts rose 0.1% to 72.45 cents a pound while later-month contracts were lower.

Physical hog and pork prices have been flat so far this week. Cash hog prices changed little on Monday and were mostly expected steady again on Tuesday. Wholesale pork prices started the week on a tepid note.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 30, 2018 15:02 ET (20:02 GMT)

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