Cattle futures gave back early gains to close lower as traders waited for a price trend to emerge in the cash market.
A limited number of slaughter-ready cattle had traded in the week's cash market as of Thursday's session. Meatpackers bought a couple of thousand head of cattle for $105.60 per 100 pounds live and $165 dressed on Wednesday, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Those prices would be steady with last week, though the USDA said there wasn't enough volume to establish a market direction.
Some analysts have said cash prices should stabilize this week after falling through much of the summer, as meatpackers stock up on supplies after several weeks of lighter buying. But most trading has stalled as packers this week bid between $102 and $104 per 100 pounds live while feedlots are asking for $107 to $108, market participants said.
That has kept futures traders in limbo. October live cattle contracts at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange fell 0.6% to $1.06925 a pound on Thursday, dropping back into a price band established earlier this week.
Hog futures were mixed, with the front two October and December contracts falling while most for later months rose. That market has been under pressure this week on concerns about oversupply.
Initial optimism about pork demand and hog prices has largely subsided in the wake of rising hog weights, said Steiner Consulting Group. That will likely continue to pressure cash-market prices in the weeks to come.
"There is a few million extra hogs that will need to get processed," the consultancy said in a note to clients. "Hog weights are increasing a lot faster, and a lot earlier, than they normally do."
CME October lean hog futures fell 0.9% to 59.025 cents a pound.
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(END) Dow Jones Newswires
September 14, 2017 15:26 ET (19:26 GMT)