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CME update: live cattle futures rise as new quarter opens

02 July 2020

US live cattle futures closed higher on 1 July on technical and speculative buying at the start of a new month and new quarter.

Reuters reports that the benchmark August live cattle contract on the CME remained in its trading range, with rallies capped by weak beef prices as slaughterhouses work through backlogged cattle supplies.

CME August live cattle settled up 1.025 cents at 97.300 cents per pound.

US wholesale beef prices dropped in June as the slaughter pace recovered from spring’s earlier COVID-19-related slowdown.

Wholesale beef prices have appeared to stabilise. US choice and select cutout values strengthened on 29 June. However, prices have since dipped, with choice cuts down $1.59 on Wednesday afternoon at $205.38 per cwt, according to USDA data.

"There is speculation that maybe this beef cutout has found a bottom, but it's just that - speculation," said Altin Kalo, agricultural economist for Steiner Consulting. It's not yet clear, he said, how long the pandemic will depress beef prices that historically tend to recover toward the US Labour Day holiday in September.

"There is a lot of demand uncertainty because of the coronavirus and the economic picture," said Doug Houghton, analyst at Brock Capital Management.

Strength in live cattle futures pulled up feeder cattle futures, offsetting pressure from rising US corn prices that signal higher feed costs. CME August feeder cattle settled up 0.225 cent at 133.075 cents per pound.

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