US cattle futures tumble as panic buying slows

CME traders report that the daily limit falls signal that consumers are no longer stockpiling meat.
calendar icon 27 March 2020
clock icon 1 minute read

According to reporting from Reuters, cattle futures surged last week as different states announced shelter-in-place initiatives. The directives prompted consumers to stockpile beef, making wholesale prices soar.

CME June live cattle futures settled down 2.775 cents at 93.550 cents per pound while the nearby April contract fell 3 cents at 105.450 cents. This is the commodity’s third straight daily decline, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

CME May feeder cattle futures settled down 3.675 cents at 125.425 cents a pound.

"The idea is that the panic meat buying, along with toilet paper and everything else, has been temporarily satisfied," said Dan Norcini, an independent livestock trader.

Cattle were pressured in part by news that a record 3.28 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits over the past week, a bearish signal for beef demand.

"That was huge," said Jeff French, analyst with Top Third Ag Marketing. He added, "I know they still have to eat, but they surely don't have to eat expensive beef. There are much cheaper protein alternatives."

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