Cattle Drop for First Time in a Week on Slow Demand; Hogs Slide

Cattle declined for the first time in a week on signs of slowing U.S. beef demand. Hog futures slid.

Spot-steer prices averaged $1.20 a pound yesterday, down 3.6 percent from $1.2445 a week earlier, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. The outlook for ample cattle supplies in the near-term and slow demand are pressuring prices, said Dick Quiter, a broker at McFarland Commodities LLC. Meatpackers processed 238,000 cattle this week, down 3.3 percent from a week earlier, USDA data show.

“Demand’s still on the light side,” Quiter said in a telephone interview from Chicago. “There are plenty of cattle around for the next three to four weeks. With demand being what it is, packers aren’t going to be overzealous in chasing cattle right now.”

Cattle futures for June delivery fell 0.5 percent to settle at $1.13525 a pound at 1 p.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. That’s the first decline since April 24 when the USDA reported the first case of mad cow disease in the U.S. since 2006. Prices rallied 2.3 percent in the four sessions before today.

Prices just got “overdone” and are coming down now, Chris Nagel, a market analyst at Northstar Commodity Investment Co. in Minneapolis, said in a telephone interview.

Feeder-cattle futures for August settlement added 0.3 percent to $1.542 a pound in Chicago.

Hog futures for June settlement fell 0.1 percent to settle at 85.85 cents a pound on the CME. The commodity has still gained 1.8 percent in 2012.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Campbell in Chicago at ecampbell14@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at sstroth@bloomberg.net

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