July 22, 2020 / 9:49 PM / 17 days ago

LIVESTOCK-Live cattle futures continue to trim as outlook remains unclear

CHICAGO, July 22 (Reuters) - U.S. live cattle futures closed lower on Wednesday as uncertainty about demand lingers, while dry conditions in the West have analysts worried about an influx of market-ready cattle in the coming weeks.

“You look at pasture range and it is deteriorating very quickly,” said Ted Seifried, chief ag market strategist at Zaner Group.

Seifried said given the option to spend more on grain feed or sell to packers early, producers may opt for the less cost-intensive option.

“I think you’ll have a lot of cattle coming to market over the next couple weeks,” he said.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) August live cattle futures settled down 0.350 cent at 101.500 cents per pound and October live cattle fell 0.400 cent to 105.725 cents.

CME August feeder cattle futures settled up 0.200 cent at 141.525 cents per pound.

Meanwhile, hog slaughter has increased, but analysts worry consumer demand may lag as packers rush to reduce backlogs of market ready hogs.

“There’s a glut of hogs coming on the market here. China’s hog population has built back up again,” said Dan Smith, commodity broker with Top Third Ag Marketing. “I think we’re going to have a hard hill to climb here.”

The U.S. has exported nearly 502,000 tonnes of pork to China since January, up 271% from last year, according to USDA data. But there are signs exports are slowing. In June, average weekly export shipments were down more than 33% from recent highs in April 2020.

Traders are monitoring rising tensions with China after the U.S. ordered the closure of the country’s consulate in Houston, escalating diplomatic tensions and threatening future purchases.

CME lean hog futures gained Tuesday, with August futures settling up 1.175 cents at 52.650 cents per pound. October futures added 0.050 cent to 50.075 cents per pound. (Reporting by Christopher Walljasper; Editing by Leslie Adler)

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