Cattle Slump to Three-Week Low on Slowing Beef Demand

Cattle futures slid to a three-week low on speculation that demand for U.S. beef is slowing as grocers fill orders for the summer holidays. Hog prices also declined.

Meatpackers processed 3.5 percent fewer cattle in the first five days of this week than the same period in 2012, according to government figures. Wholesale beef fell 0.2 percent to $2.0015 a pound as of midday, the lowest since May 1, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. Independence Day on July 4 is the most-popular day for outdoor grilling, according to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association.

“For the most part, the beef trade remains rather stagnant,” Troy Vetterkind, the owner of Vetterkind Cattle Brokerage LLC in Thorp, Wisconsin, said in a report. “We could see the market trade sideways early next week as retailers finish Fourth of July buying.”

Cattle futures for August delivery dropped 0.6 percent to settle at $1.18325 a pound at 1 p.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Earlier, the price touched $1.18025, the lowest for a most-active contract since May 24. This week, the commodity fell 0.8 percent, the second straight decline.

Feeder-cattle futures for August settlement slid 1.4 percent to $1.434 a pound.

Hog futures for August settlement fell 0.6 percent to 96.75 cents a pound. The contract climbed 1.7 percent this week.

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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