By Joanna Newman

AFTER rallying to a four-month high at the end of October, cattle futures prices retreated again at the start of November.

The Chicago December live cattle contract for fat finished cattle fell from 65.7¢/lb a week ago to 64.6¢/lb (85.8p/kg) on Tuesday, 3 November. In the cash market, packers have obstinately held their bids steady over the past two weeks at 63¢/lb, forcing producers to drop their offers from 65¢ to 63¢ to secure business.

Most analysts point to an absence of good news as sufficient reason for the market weakness.

Despite the rumours, there has still been no concrete announcement of beef food aid to Russia and this has dampened hopes of substantial US Department of Agriculture shipments in the near future. Meanwhile, cattle prices have also been depressed by competition from cheaper pig prices in recent days.

In the store market, opinions are mixed on whether US feedlots and packing houses are catching up with supply. All eyes are on next weeks monthly Cattle on Feed report, which tracks store cattle entering feedlots for fattening up and slaughter activity.

If the store cattle placed in feedlots are fewer and lighter, while the slaughter rate remains strong, this would help the industry become more current and support prices.

The Chicago November feeder cattle contract settled on Tuesday, 3 November at 71.07¢/lb, down from around 72.5¢/lb a week earlier.

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