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CME update: US livestock futures mostly lower, with cattle being mixed

30 April 2020

As meat processing woes persist, US live cattle futures were mixed as traders wrestled with the implications of a presidential order for US meat packing plants to remain open.

On 28 April, President Trump ordered meat processing plants to stay open to protect the US food supply despite concerns about COVID-19 outbreaks among workers. According to reporting in Reuters, the order drew backlash from workers and farmers unions, who said that at-risk workers required more protection.

Some traders initially thought the order might cool rising wholesale prices while easing a potential backlog of cattle in the country. But since futures remain mixed, questions about prices and bottlenecks persist, despite the order.

According to the USDA, the daily cattle slaughter, at 72,000 head, was down from 85,000 a week ago and 121,000 this time last year.

June live cattle settled down 0.425 cent at 84.275 cents per pound while the August contract rose 0.250 cent at 90.775 cents.

CME August feeder cattle futures rose 0.525 cent to finish at 128.450 cents per pound.

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