Cattle Futures Rise as Snowstorm May Curb Animal Weights

Cattle rose for the first time this week on speculation that a winter storm sweeping across the U.S. may reduce animal weights, while beef exports jumped. Hogs fell, capping the longest decline since October 2008.

A weather system may drop more than 12 inches (30 centimeters) of snow in parts of the Great Plains, according to the National Weather Service. Steers averaged 1,385 pounds (628 kilograms) in the first four days of this week, down 0.3 percent from a week earlier, government data show. Beef-export sales tripled in the week ended Feb. 14.

“Storms like this can certainly take weight off of cattle,” Dennis Smith, an analyst at Archer Financial Services, said in a telephone interview. “That’s been one of the bearish factors, the heavyweight cattle,” while exports were “outstanding,” he said.

Cattle futures for April delivery rose 0.3 percent to settle at $1.28225 a pound at 1 p.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The price fell 1.7 percent this week, the biggest loss since Jan. 18.

In colder weather, cattle use more energy to stay warm, leading to lower weights. Beef-export sales rose to 22,161 metric tons (48.8 million pounds) from 7,302 tons in the week ended Feb. 7, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today.

Feeder-cattle futures for March settlement advanced 0.4 percent to $1.4125 a pound.

Hog futures for April settlement fell 0.9 percent to close at 81.65 cents a pound. That marks the eighth straight drop, the longest slump since Oct. 6, 2008.

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