CME live cattle, lean hogs fall

Cold snap stressing livestock
calendar icon 17 January 2024
clock icon 2 minute read

Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) cattle futures firmed on Tuesday amid technical trading, as traders kept a close eye on rising boxed beef prices and how extreme winter weather was impacting the slaughter pace, Reuters reported, citing analysts.

Meatpackers on Tuesday slaughtered an estimated 114,000 cattle, up from 94,000 head a week ago - when wintry weather covered parts of the central US in snow - but lower than a year earlier, USDA said.

Lean hog futures eased on the day under ongoing pressure from ample supplies, traders said.

Most-active CME February live cattle futures settled up 1.750 cents at 173.125 cents per pound. March feeder cattle finished up 1.125 cents at 228.825 cents per pound.

CME most-active February lean hog futures finished down 1.125 cent at 70.775 cents per pound.

The US market was closed on Monday for the Martin Luther King Day holiday.

An Arctic blast gripped much of the US on Tuesday, with extreme cold stressing beef and dairy cattle herds, and causing concerns for poultry and hog operators who are closely monitoring the temperatures inside their barns, analysts said.

Such cold temperatures can be a double-edged sword for the cattle market, said Don Roose, president of Iowa-based US Commodities.

While a slower kill rate can be a supportive price indicator, Roose said, "with weather like this, people aren't going out and out to eat as much. So the question is, are they eating as much beef at home?"

Representatives of cattle industry groups in Kansas and Nebraska, two major beef states, said they were not aware of mass cattle deaths due to the cold. But the cold has curtailed cattle weight gain, and impacted livestock and feed transportation.

Tyson Foods said it temporarily scaled back meatpacking operations at some US facilities for employees' safety and is working to fulfil customer orders at other locations.

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