Lower Meat Prices Pressure Livestock Markets

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03/08/2018 | 09:09 pm

By Benjamin Parkin

Hog futures were mixed on Thursday as pork prices fell.

Meatpackers sold wholesale pork for sharply lower prices on Wednesday and Thursday morning, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Prices for pork bellies, which are used to make bacon, fell around $10 on both days to a low of $96.75 per 100 pounds. That dragged broader pork prices lower too.

The drop in meat prices weighed on futures markets on Thursday, though the front-month April contract regained some ground after losses on Wednesday. April futures rose 0.4% to 68.075 cents a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, while prices for later months fell.

Cattle futures also fell as cash prices for physical cattle slid. Packers mostly paid $126 per 100 pounds for slaughter-ready herds, down from last week's average of $127. Analysts expect further pressure on prices as available supplies grow in the weeks to come.

CME April live cattle futures fell 1% to $1.21775 a pound. Wholesale beef prices were also slightly lower as of midday.

The USDA said in a report on Thursday that beef and pork exports fell in January from the previous month, though both were above a year earlier.

President Donald Trump's move to slap tariffs on U.S. steel and aluminum imports has sparked concern among traders that U.S. agricultural products, including red meat, could be a target for retaliation by other countries. That has put some pressure on futures prices in recent sessions, analysts said.

Write to Benjamin Parkin at benjamin.parkin@wsj.com

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