U.S. live cattle futures extend slide; lean hogs rebound

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ME Group live cattle futures fell on Monday, extending their slide to eight straight sessions on long liquidation and signs that surging wholesale beef prices may have reached a seasonal top, analysts said.

Feeder cattle futures felt additional pressure from a jump in Chicago Board of Trade corn futures, a sign of rising feed costs.

CME June live cattle settled down 0.575 cent on Monday at 118.600 cents per pound, and August feeder cattle futures fell 1.775 cents to end at 152.775 cents per pound.

The June live cattle contract has been in retreat since setting a life-of-contract high on April 8, buoyed by rising beef prices tied to the approach of the summer grilling season and optimism about the U.S. economy.

However, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported a drop in wholesale prices for choice cuts of beef on Friday, and the reading barely budged on Monday, rising $0.12 to $276.17 per cwt, according to government data.

“The boxed beef feels like it’s topping out. I think the bullish news got dialed in too quickly,” said Don Roose, president of Iowa-based U.S. Commodities.

In the hog market, CME June lean hog futures surged 2.625 cents to settle at 104.325 cents per pound, nearly erasing Friday’s sell-off. The contract bounced on bargain-buying after tumbling more than 6.6% last week and dipping to its lowest since March 23.

Robust cash hog prices and firming wholesale pork prices supported the market. The U.S. pork cutout, an indication of wholesale pork prices, rose $1.99 to $114.08 per cwt on Monday afternoon.

“We overdid it to the downside, technically, fundamentally – and now we are getting a bounce-back,” Roose said.