US cattle futures hit November highs - CME

Weather remains top issue for traders, producers
calendar icon 18 January 2024
clock icon 2 minute read

Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) cattle futures touched their highest prices since November on Wednesday after severe winter weather has slowed weight gains for livestock and disrupted slaughtering, Reuters reported, citing analysts.

Weather remains a top issue for traders and producers.

Some locations stretching from Nebraska to Michigan still have more than a foot of snow on the ground, leading to ongoing challenges in caring for livestock, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in a daily report. Sub-zero temperatures will linger through the weekend across the northern half of the Plains and the upper Midwest, the department added.

Bitter cold tends to slow weight gains in livestock as feed that animals consume goes toward keeping them warm, rather than making them grow. Average hog weights fell to 291.3 pounds in the week ending Jan. 13 from 293.1 pounds a week earlier, the USDA said.

CME April live cattle futures ended up 0.450 cent at 175.625 cents per pound and hit the highest price since Nov. 30. The front-month February contact slipped by 0.025 cent to 173.100 cents per pound and stayed within Tuesday's trading range.

March feeder cattle finished up 0.950 cent at 229.775 cents per pound and hit its highest price since Nov. 22.

In CME's lean hog market, February futures finished up 0.675 cent at 71.450 cents per pound after earlier dropping to its lowest price since Jan. 8. Large supplies of hogs continue to hang over the market, analysts said.

Meat processing increased after recent weather disruptions, with the USDA estimating that packers slaughtered an estimated 489,000 hogs and 118,000 cattle on Wednesday. That was up from 477,000 hogs and 116,000 cattle a week ago.

On Friday, the USDA is slated to issue a monthly Cattle on Feed report that analysts expect will show placements of cattle into feedlots in December fell by 4.6% from the previous year.

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