Cattle Drop to 8-Month Low on ‘Sluggish’ Beef Demand; Hogs Fall

Cattle futures fell to an eight-month low on signs of slowing demand for U.S. beef. Hog prices also dropped.

About 239,000 cattle were processed in the first two days of this week, 4 percent fewer than the same period in 2012, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. Wholesale beef slumped 0.8 percent last week to $1.9576 a pound, the biggest decline since Feb. 1, according to USDA data. Prices slipped 0.1 percent to $1.9568 a pound as of midday.

“Beef markets were sluggish again yesterday,” Troy Vetterkind, the owner of Vetterkind Cattle Brokerage LLC in Thorp, Wisconsin, said in an e-mailed report. “Demand for beef at retail remains dull, and there is a lot of competition from cheaper pork and chicken.”

Cattle futures for June delivery dropped 0.3 percent to close at $1.20975 a pound at 1 p.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, after touching $1.201, the lowest for the most-active contract since July 18.

Feeder-cattle futures for May settlement declined 0.5 percent to $1.404 a pound in Chicago.

Hog futures for June settlement fell 0.8 percent to close at 88.275 cents a pound in Chicago. The most-active contract is up 3 percent this year.