CHICAGO, Jan 28 (Reuters) – Chicago Mercantile Exchange
cattle futures firmed on Friday as daily processing levels began
to rebound, a sign that COVID-related staffing woes may be
easing, traders said.
Meatpackers have struggled with staffing shortages due to
the surge in Omicron coronavirus infections, traders said,
limiting production in recent weeks.
Beef processors slaughtered an estimated 117,000 cattle on
Friday, up from 114,000 cattle a week ago and down from 120,000
cattle a year ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
For the week ended Friday, beef processors slaughtered an
estimated 586,000 cattle, up from 575,000 cattle in the previous
week – but down from the same period a year earlier.
“The estimates for this week’s cash cattle trade remained
steady, but the market is expecting a smaller set-up in the
number of cattle offered,” said Rich Nelson, chief strategist
for commodities brokerage Allendale.
Traders are also anticipating the next USDA cattle report,
slated to be released on Monday, which will give investors an
update on the domestic supply of market cattle.
Nelson said many traders are anticipating that cattle
supplies will continue to decline, “and I think that we’ll see
the lowest beef cow and calf crop in six years.”
The choice boxed beef cutout rose by $1.31 on Friday to
$290.42 per cwt, while the select cutout jumped $4.31 to $283.41
per cwt, according to the USDA.
CME April live cattle futures settled up 1.475 cent
at 143.1 cents per pound.
March feeder cattle futures ended 0.125 cent higher
at 159.625 cents per pound.
Hog futures also rose on Friday, bolstered by technical
buying, a firm cash market and tight supplies, traders said.
Pork processors slaughtered 468,000 hogs on Friday, up from
445,000 hogs a week ago and down from 486,000 hogs last year,
according to the USDA.
April lean hogs finished up 0.250 cent at 94.925
cents per pound.
(Reporting by P.J. Huffstutter in Chicago; Editing by Devika