U.S. livestock: CME cattle futures ease as beef prices cool

Lean hog index still at premium to futures

CME October 2021 live cattle (candlesticks) with Bollinger bands (20,2). (Barchart)

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures eased on Wednesday, as beef prices eased ahead of the Labour Day holiday, traditionally a big beef consumption holiday, traders said.

“We’re getting into that lull period ahead of the Labour Day holiday, where the retailers have already got their product purchased from the packers,” said Alan Brugler, president of Brugler Marketing, referring to the Sept. 6 holiday.

Beef prices eased, with choice cuts falling seven cents to $347.51/cwt (all figures US$). And select cuts dropping $1.48, to $315.42/cwt, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Benchmark CME October live cattle eased 1.4 cents to 130.3 cents/lb.

Despite the lower movement, Brugler said the market remains propped up.

“I think the cash market should be fairly well supported, because we’re into some tighter numbers in September, as far as what’s available for the packer to buy,” he said.

Cash markets are discounted to futures, with the Northern U.S. Plains seeing $125-$127 trade, holding its premium to Texas and Oklahoma, where cash cattle traded $121-$122, according to USDA.

October feeder cattle futures ended 0.95 cent lower at 169.275 cents/lb. as corn prices gained.

August feeders, which go off the board on Friday, firmed 0.725 cent to 159.3 cents/lb.

Meanwhile, CME lean hog futures added as the CME’s lean hog index remains premium to the futures markets.

“If we get to mid-September and the cash isn’t coming down quick enough, because of demand or tight supplies or whatever, then the board might rally a little,” said Brugler. “I don’t look for October to get very far from where it is.”

October hogs added 1.775 cents, to 88.75 cents/lb.

— Christopher Walljasper reports on agriculture and ag commodities for Reuters from Chicago.

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