Cattle Prices Slide on Signs of Falling Beef Demand; Hogs Drop

Cattle futures declined to the lowest price in almost two weeks on signs of slowing demand for U.S. beef. Hogs also dropped, heading for the longest slump since August.

Wholesale beef fell 0.2 percent to $1.8394 a pound yesterday, the first decline in three days, government data show. Meatpackers processed 355,000 cattle this week, down 3.5 percent from a week earlier, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Beef-export sales fell to 9,724 metric tons (21.44 million pounds) in the week ended Jan. 31, down 10 percent from the four-week average, USDA data showed today.

“Beef markets remain sluggish both in domestic and export markets,” Troy Vetterkind, the owner of Vetterkind Cattle Brokerage LLC in Thorp, Wisconsin, said in an e-mailed report. “Packers have production scaled back this week in an attempt to clear problem inventories, but they perhaps need to cut kills even more before they can get the market straightened out.”

Cattle futures for April delivery fell 0.2 percent to $1.31125 a pound at 9:21 a.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, after reaching $1.30725, the lowest for the most- active contract since Jan. 25.

Feeder-cattle futures for March settlement fell 0.5 percent to $1.468 a pound in Chicago, heading for a fifth straight decline. Trading was 89 percent higher than the average over the past 100 days at this time.

Hog futures for April settlement dropped 0.4 percent to 85.875 cents a pound on the CME, heading for a fifth straight decline, the longest slump since Aug. 24.

Wholesale pork tumbled 2.1 percent yesterday, the biggest drop in more than seven weeks, to 82.41 cents a pound, the lowest since Jan. 2, USDA data show.

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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