U.S. cattle futures fell Thursday on concerns over demand and widespread pressure on commodities.
Prices were swept lower in a broad-based commodity selloff as the dollar climbed and investors fled a range of hard assets from copper to soybeans.
Cattle for June delivery fell 0.45 cent, or 0.4%, to $1.101 a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The August contract fell 0.55 cent, or 0.5%, to $1.124 a pound.
Futures for young cattle, known as feeders, also fell, with the May contract in recent trading 0.87 cent, or 0.7%, lower at $1.284 a pound, and the August contract down 0.87 cent, or 0.7%, to $1.3205 a pound.
Cattle futures have been selling off for the last month as beef demand has weakened, prompting worries that the broad economy is limiting consumers' purchases. Poor spring weather in some parts of the U.S. also hasn't helped as grilling season gets a late start.
But a decline from April highs is typical for cattle prices, and the selloff is in line with historic trends, said Joe Ocrant, president of Oak Investment Group in Chicago.
"It's seasonal and not surprising at all," he said.
Ocrant and other traders said the market could be nearing a short-term bottom and is showing signs of stabilizing. Weaker prices could help put a bottom on prices by stimulating more demand.
"We're going to see if we can move some beef at these price levels," said Don Roose, president of U.S. Commodities in Des Moines.
Cash cattle markets are expected to see little activity Thursday as most of the trading wrapped up earlier in the week.
Sales in Texas for the week were at $1.15 a pound, down from $1.16 to $1.17 a pound last week. Asking prices there for remaining cattle for sale this week stand at $1.16 to $1.17 a pound. Sales in Nebraska are expected to be very limited at steady prices of $1.85 to $1.86 a pound dressed and $1.15 to $1.16 live. Prices there are down 1 cent to 2 cents a pound from week ago.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported declines in wholesale beef prices Wednesday afternoon with the choice grade down $1.22 to $180.94 per a hundred pounds and select off $1.31 at $175.02 per a hundred pounds.
The latest HedgersEdge packer margin index is minus $22.25 a head, compared with the previous estimate of minus $20.60 a head. This is an estimate of packer returns on cattle slaughtered and processed expressed in the form of an index.