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CME update: cattle futures make modest gains after last week’s slides

30 June 2020

US live cattle futures closed slightly higher on 29 June, bouncing back from early declines and firming on technical buying before the end of the month and quarter.

Reuters reports that the firming market comes after a three-session slide last week.

A stronger close in Wall Street’s equity markets bolstered optimism about the US economy and wider consumer demand for meat.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange August live cattle futures settled up 0.450 cent at 96.475 cents per pound, and August feeder cattle rose 0.900 cent to end at 133.500 cents per pound.

The rallies were kept in check by an increased slaughter pace as meat packers work through a backlog of heavy cattle during part of a seasonal lull in beef demand. Bottlenecks of market-ready cattle were created after COVID-19 sickened hundreds of workers at multiple US slaughterhouses this spring. The infections forced many plants to temporarily shut to stem the spread of disease.

"When you get into the dog days of summer, it's tough in a normal year to move up (in price), let alone one where we are still trying catch up on the backed-up cattle," said Don Roose, president of Iowa-based US Commodities.

Last week's cattle slaughter was estimated at 680,000 head, up from 670,000 head a year earlier, the US Department of Agriculture said, and Monday's kill reached 121,000 head, the highest daily total since March.

"There's no shortage of meat," Roose said.

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