Economic - Markets

CME update: cattle futures step back as demand outlook becomes cloudy

Three days of soft wholesale beef prices brought retail demand for beef into question, making live cattle futures fall.

 When speaking to Reuters, Doug Houghton at Brock Capital Management said, "Wholesale beef prices appear to have topped again and could head lower into the holidays, other than some late buying by retailers last minute.”


Chicago Mercantile Exchange February live cattle futures fell 0.175 cents to 112.400 cents per pound, its lowest close since 20 November.


For the week, CME's most active live cattle futures contract fell 0.850 cent.


Boxed beef prices have been declining for much of the week, with choice cuts falling $4.17 to $235.02 per cwt on Friday, down from $242.85 a week ago, and select cuts trimming $2.42 to $217.51 per cwt, a retreat from $220.68 last week.


Heavier supplies of market-ready beef could add pressure to cattle futures in the first quarter of 2021, Houghton said, as higher numbers of cattle placed in feedlots during the summer come ready for slaughter.


"After the spring, when all the cattle got backed up because of COVID and they didn't go into feedlots," he said, "the whole supply cycle has been disrupted."


CME feeder cattle futures closed narrowly mixed, with the most-active January contract down 0.025 cent at 139.775 cents per pound, ending the week 0.050 cent lower.


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Source: Collect
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