Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures weakened on Tuesday as worries about the new Omicron coronavirus variant rattled commodity and financial markets.
Losses pulled live cattle futures down from contract highs reached in recent sessions.
CME lean hog futures also fell, along with U.S. grains and soybeans, after Moderna’s chief cast doubt on the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines against the Omicron variant.
“It’s a risk-off type of trade in the grains and the meat,” said Don Roose, president of agricultural broker U.S. Commodities.
CME February live cattle finished down 1.4 cents at 137.9 cents/lb. and touched its lowest price since Nov. 19 at 137.35 cents (all figures US$). On Monday, futures set a contract high of 141.85 before ending lower.
December live cattle finished 1.05 cents lower at 135.875 cents on Tuesday. The contract on Monday peaked at 139.125 cents, the highest for a front-month contract since March 2016.
CME January feeder cattle slipped 0.875 cents, to 164.85 cents/lb.
Weaker cash cattle prices contributed to the slump in futures, traders said. Cash cattle traded at $138/cwt in Texas on Tuesday, down from $140 last week, Roose said.
The cash market had climbed recently amid tightening supplies and solid demand from meat packers.
“The cash has been really what you call on fire coming into this week,” Roose said.
Profit margins for beef processors on Tuesday fell to $314 per head of cattle from $362.60 on Monday and $404.80 a week ago, according to livestock marketing advisory service HedgersEdge.
Pork processors earned $51.25 per hog, up from $43.20 per hog on Monday and $49.70 a week ago, HedgersEdge said.
CME February lean hogs settled 0.95 cent lower at 79.975 cents/lb. and hit the lowest price since Nov. 11 at 78.675 cents.