December 4, 2017 / 8:59 PM / a year ago

LIVESTOCK-Cash price jitters drop CME live cattle to 4-1/2 month low

    * Feeder cattle near 3-month bottom
    * Hog market finishes mostly higher

    By Theopolis Waters
    CHICAGO, Dec 4 (Reuters) - Chicago Mercantile Exchange live
cattle        futures slid to their lowest level in almost five
months on Monday, led by the prospect that packers might pay
less for supplies later this week, said traders.
    December         live cattle finished down 0.850 cent per
pound at 116.375 cents, and February         ended 0.800 cent
lower at 121.175 cents.
    Last week packers in the U.S. Plains paid $119 to $121 per
cwt for slaughter-ready, or cash, cattle. 
    This week's U.S. Plains' showlist, a tally of the number of
cattle for sale, has more livestock than a week ago. Packers are
struggling to recoup lost margins, which could hurt cash prices.
    And beef is not only competing with plentiful pork and
poultry, but for the minds of consumers that are focused on
year-end holiday gift buying, said traders and analysts.
    "A larger showlist will help stack the deck in favor of
lower cash cattle prices this week, said Cassandra Fish, author
of industry blog The Beef.
    "Boxed beef values, up at midday today, are in their last
gasp, early December rally before a downtrend ensues at least
until Christmas," she said.
    CME feeder cattle futures        drifted to a near
three-month low following lower cash feeder cattle prices and
weaker CME live cattle futures. 
    January         feeder cattle closed down 0.375 cent per
pound at 149.950 cents.
    Deferred CME lean hog contracts finished higher after
traders bought those months and sold December ahead of its
expiration on Dec. 14, said traders.
    December         hogs ended 0.325 cent per pound lower at
64.950 cents. February         closed up 0.950 cent to 71.675
cents, and April         finished 1.000 cents higher at 75.450
    "People might be thinking we're going to see fewer hogs
beginning this spring," a trader said. 
    Ultimately hogs could be hard to come by after farmers
rushed them to market earlier than they had planned, prompted by
initial forecasts for increased supplies moving forward.
    Outside of holiday ham business, and pork bellies being
stored for spring and summer use, overall wholesale pork demand
usually tapers off in December, the trader said.         

 (Reporting by Theopolis Waters; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
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