Live cattle markets fall on technical selling - CME

Pork prices lift hogs
calendar icon 15 June 2023
clock icon 2 minute read

Live cattle futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) fell on Wednesday on chart-based selling and expectations of a seasonal slowdown in beef demand in the coming weeks, Reuters reported, citing traders.

CME benchmark August live cattle futures settled down 2.950 cents at 170.975 cents per pound, with technical selling accelerating as the contract dropped below its 10-day moving average. CME August feeder cattle tumbled 4.550 cents to close at 235.900 cents per pound.

Live cattle futures have cooled since the August contract set a life-of-contract high last week at 178.1 cents per pound, buoyed by a surging cash market as US cattle supplies tighten.

Wholesale beef prices have been strong. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) priced choice cuts on Wednesday at $339.06 per hundredweight (cwt), up $1.07 from Tuesday and the highest since Aug. 31, 2021. However, US retailers should be nearly finished with stocking freezers for the July Fourth holiday.

"Once you've got the buying for the Fathers Day and Fourth of July wrapped up, beef prices tend to work lower," said Dan Norcini, an independent livestock trader.

With a seasonal slowdown looming, commodity funds hold a massive net long position in CME live cattle futures, leaving the market vulnerable to bouts of long liquidation. Managed funds were net long more than 112,800 contracts in the week to June 6, data from the US Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed, their largest net long since May 2019.

"A lot of people are looking at that fund long position, and they are getting nervous because typically this is a time of year where you see cattle prices retreat," Norcini said.

Hog futures rose on Wednesday, buoyed by rising wholesale pork prices amid signs of tightening pork supplies.

CME July hogs settled up 2.175 cents at 92.775 cents per pound after reaching 93.5 cents, the contract's highest since April 28. August hogs ended up 2.250 cents at 89.675 cents a pound.

For pork, the USDA priced the carcass cutout at $89.73 per cwt on Wednesday afternoon, up 21 cents from Tuesday and the highest since late December.

The USDA reported the week-to-date hog slaughter at 1.392 million head, down from 1.4 million a year ago, while average hog weights have declined from last year, resulting in a significant drop in pork production compared to this time last year, Norcini noted.

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