Cattle Fall as Demand May Decline Amid High Prices; Hogs Gain

Cattle futures fell for the second time in three sessions on speculation that near-record prices will curb demand amid signs of bigger herds than expected on U.S. feedlots. Hogs rose.

The price of cattle has jumped 17 percent since the end of April, reaching a record $1.345 a pound in Chicago on Dec. 19. Wholesale beef has dropped 3.2 percent since reaching a record $1.9938 a pound on Oct. 24, government data show. About 11.328 million head of cattle were in feedlots as of Dec. 1, down 6 percent from a year earlier, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a Dec. 21 report. Analysts expected the herd to be down 6.5 percent.

“It’s hard to sell beef at these high prices as you get into January and February,” Troy Vetterkind, the owner of Vetterkind Cattle Brokerage LLC, said by telephone. Prices are lower “because of the negativity around the cattle-on-feed report last week,” he said. Investors probably will liquidate positions before the end of the year, Vetterkind said.

Cattle futures for February delivery fell 0.2 percent to $1.33275 at 9:52 a.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The price through Dec. 21 rose 10 percent this year.

Feeder-cattle futures for March settlement slid 0.1 percent to $1.546 a pound on the CME.

Hog futures for February settlement climbed 0.2 percent to 87.1 cents a pound in Chicago. The most-active contract through Dec. 21 had gained 3.1 percent this year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Tony C. Dreibus in Chicago at tdreibus@bloomberg.net

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

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