Cattle Futures: Mostly Firmer As Market Awaits Cash Trade

US - Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures ended mixed Monday, with the April contract sliding just into the close, while June and back months settled with mild gains as the market awaits the start of cash cattle trading.
calendar icon 27 March 2007
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Nearby April fell 5 points to 98.05 cents a pound, while most active June gained 42 points to 95.12 cents.
Prices for front-month cattle were generally firmer Monday, with bull spreads a feature of trade. Early on, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's cattle-on-feed report - released after the close Friday - underpinned those bull spreads, analysts said.

The on-feed number was 96%, nearly identical to the average of analyst estimates, while the placements were higher than expected at 104%. The marketing figure of 107% was deemed supportive.

Now the market awaits the start of this week's cash cattle trading.

"We were firmer because April is trading at the high end of the cash prices last week while the June is at a discount to cash prices," said John Kleist, analyst and broker at Top Third Ag Marketing.

Kleist gave two reasons for the general strength Monday. First, June cattle held support at 94.20 cents and second, funds remain net long in cattle, even after the break from the upper 90-cent level for the June contract.

Midday beef prices were bearish. The USDA reported choice beef prices at midday were down $1.32 to $156.69. Select beef prices were off $0.65 at $147.71. The volume of loads sold as of midday stood at 98 for fabricated cuts and 33 for trimmings and grinds.

"The beef market is a cold sore for this market. Retail demand is lackluster," Kleist said.

Estimated daily livestock slaughter was 121,000 head Monday, USDA said. A week ago it was estimated at 125,000 head and a year ago actual slaughter was 113,000 head.

In April live cattle, Rosenthal-Collins and Fimat were sellers. In June live, Rosenthal-Collins, Fimat and local traders were buyers; Fimat was also selling that month. In August, Fimat bought, and locals and Cadent sold.

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