Weak Cash Markets Pressure Livestock Futures

By Benjamin ParkinFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Livestock futures fell on lingering weakness in cash markets.

December lean hog contracts slid 0.1% to 63.6 a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, with the more-active February hog contract falling 2.7%.

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Market observers said that cash prices for physical hogs were due to start the week steady to lower, likely extending recent losses.

Oversupply of slaughter-ready hogs has weighed on prices, allowing meatpackers to lower bids in the cash market despite slaughtering large numbers of hogs. Packers slaughtered 2.537 million head last week, a new high since two new facilities opened in September.

A seasonal demand boost has helped steady pork prices, analysts say, but that could soon wane as retailers fill their shelves ahead of December holidays. Wholesale pork prices rose 5 cents to $83.75 per 100 pounds as of midday Monday, after rising by 35 cents over the course of last week.

Cattle futures also fell. CME December-dated live cattle contracts dropped 0.4% to $1.15175 a pound.

Cash prices last week averaged $3 below a week earlier, with growing supplies of fattened, slaughter-ready cattle also eroding prices. Meatpackers paid an average of $117.45 per 100 pounds on a live basis and $187.02 dressed.

Analysts said pressure on cash cattle prices and futures would likely extend into this week, with funds souring on the market. The Commodity Futures Trading Commission last week said that money managers trimmed their bets that live cattle prices would rise, though they still held a net long of 117,010 futures and options as of last Tuesday.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 11, 2017 15:48 ET (20:48 GMT)