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CME update: cattle futures fall as slaughter pace normalises

08 June 2020

US live cattle futures fell on 5 June as prices for market-ready cattle ease and packer profit margins decline.

Reuters reports that wholesale beef prices in the US continue to slide.

CME live cattle futures closed down 1.825 cents at 93.900 cents per pound and benchmark August fell 1.750 cents at 96.175 cents after hitting the one-month low of 95.7.

August feeder cattle futures settled down 0.550 cent at 134.175 cents per pound.

Market-ready cattle traded in the cash market on 5 June as low as $100 per hundredweight in Texas, below the 4 June trades at $105 and down from $118 per cwt on 1 June.

Speaking to Reuters, Brian Hoops, president of Midwest Market Solutions said, “we are seeing the cash trade weaken throughout this week.”

The daily US cattle slaughter has mostly rebounded since April and early May when the COVID-19 crises sickened numerous slaughterhouse workers, forcing many meat packing plants in the US to temporarily close. The cattle slaughter reached a two-month high on Thursday 4 June at 117,000 head. The recovered slaughter pace is replenishing beef supplies.

In response, wholesale beef prices have dropped from their historic highs, narrowing packer margins. The choice boxed beef cutout, an indicator of wholesale prices, fell on Friday afternoon to $261.48 cwt, dropping $10.78 from the day before and down nearly $102 from a week ago, according to USDA data.

"Cutout values continue to decline ... with the big jumps in the slaughter numbers. And the steer weights are much heavier than a year ago," Hoops said.

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