December cattle finished Tuesday's session near the daily lows, under pressure along with other economic sensitive commodities. A strong recovery in the US stock market helped support prices early but a weak close for February cattle after posting a new high for the move was seen as a negative factor for all cattle contracts. The outlook for a steady decline of supply into the first quarter of 2012, continued signs of stronger export demand and declining imports are thought to be positive factors that may provide support for the market. However, many traders also see weak packer profit margins and sluggish beef prices as negative factors for cattle prices. The market will digest another monthly Cattle-on-feed report on Friday, with on-feed supply expected to be up from last year and a decent supply of near market-ready cattle projected for fall slaughter. Some traders see a smaller showlist as a factor which might support the cash market this week, while other traders see poor packer margins and sluggish beef trade as reasons to suspect weaker demand from packers. The estimated cattle slaughter came in at 130,000 head yesterday. This brings the total for the week so far to 253,000 head, down from 257,000 head last week at this time and down from 260,000 head a year ago. Boxed beef cutout values were down 7 cents at mid-session yesterday and closed 18 cents lower at $185.06. This was up from $184.99 the prior week.
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