By Joanna Newman
THE US cattle market remained almost static this week as it managed to withstand the recent collapse in pig prices.
The Chicago April feeder (store) cattle futures contract settled on Tuesday (30 March) at 72.0¢/lb (98p/kg), compared with 71.8¢/lb a week earlier.
Futures have stabilised after selling off 10 days ago in the wake of a disappointing monthly Cattle on Feed report, which tracks the number of cattle entering feedlots and marketed to packing houses.
The cash market has been quiet in recent days. Slaughterers have not needed to buy aggressively and trading volume has been thin.
Packers are bidding about 63¢/lb with occasional reports of 64¢, the same as a week ago, while producers are holding out for 66¢/lb (90p/kg) for live animals.
This represents a significant stand-off between buyers and sellers, but some analysts expect that packers will raise their bids slightly to secure business before the Easter weekend.
US producers are hoping to force open a new market for their beef. The USA is threatening almost $1 billion (£620m) in trade sanctions against the European Union because of its failure to lift a decade-old ban on US beef imports.
The EU concern over growth hormones used in US cattle has been ruled invalid by the World Trade Organisation.