Chicago | Reuters — Technical buying and a steady cash market helped fuel Chicago Mercantile Exchange live and feeder cattle futures on Thursday, sending prices to multi-week highs and stretching the rally into a fourth trading session, traders said.
Most-active November feeder cattle touched its highest price since Sept. 9 and ended up 3.475 cents at 161.6 cents/lb. (all figures US$).
Front-month CME October live cattle futures reached its highest price since Sept. 7 at 125.35 cents/lb. and ended up 1.45 cents at 125.275 cents/lb. The most-active December contract hit the highest price since Sept. 14, before settling the day 1.875 cents higher at 130.1 cents/lb.
Even the hog market saw support. October lean hogs settled up 0.225 cent at 89.85 cents/lb. Most-active December lean hogs rose 0.3 cent to close at 82.025 cents.
As the cattle market rally continues, traders now are weighing a number of potential factors that could impact cattle markets and beef demand going forward, said Rich Nelson, chief strategist at Allendale Inc.
Some of these unknowns include future U.S. economic growth, how ongoing pandemic-related labor issues may affect meat packers and the recent drop in rates of COVID-19 cases and related hospitalizations and deaths.
Meanwhile, traders had been expecting cash cattle prices to fall this month. But cash trade in market-ready cattle this week has remained roughly steady to slightly better, with fat cattle in Kansas and Texas trading at $124 per hundredweight, in the southern Plains, Nelson said.
Recent gains in live and feeder cattle are giving traders some confidence that the markets may have set near-term bottoms in prices, as export demand for U.S. beef is firm, analysts said.
Net sales of U.S. beef weekly exports for the period ending Sept. 30 were down three per cent from the previous week, but up five per cent from the prior four-week average, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported on Thursday.
— P.J. Huffstutter reports on agriculture and agribusiness for Reuters from Chicago.