Cattle Drop on Speculation Meat Purchases Will Slow; Hogs Slump

Cattle futures fell the most in seven weeks on speculation that U.S. grocers may have filled meat orders for the Memorial Day holiday. Hogs also dropped.

Meatpackers processed 606,000 head of cattle in the first five days of this week, down 1.8 percent from the same period in 2012, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. Retailers may have finished their meat purchases for the Memorial Day holiday weekend that starts May 25, according to broker Allendale Inc. Memorial Day is the second-most-popular day for grilling, according to the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association. The Independence Day holiday on July 4 is No. 1.

“We have some concerns about demand as we go into next week and beyond,” Rich Nelson, the chief strategist at Allendale in McHenry, Illinois, said in a telephone interview. “The first week of May is when we do Memorial Day buying. Typically after this week, that’s when we have a let-down” in demand, he said.

Cattle futures for June delivery declined 1.5 percent to settle at $1.21825 a pound at 1 p.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, marking the biggest slump for the most-active contract since March 15.

Feeder-cattle futures for August settlement slid 1.4 percent to $1.475 a pound.

Hog futures for June settlement fell 0.7 percent to close at 92.175 cents a pound on the CME. Prices are up 7.5 percent this year.

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