U.S. cattle placements fall seventh straight month

The number of cattle placed in U.S. feedlots in December fell for a seventh straight month, a government report showed on Friday, in a sign of high feed costs continuing to roil the industry after the worst drought in half a century.

The decline was against trade expectations for the first monthly increase in placements since May.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture showed placements down one per cent from a year earlier to 1.664 million head, extending its string of monthly declines since May. The average analyst estimate was for a 3.8 per cent increase.

USDA put supply of cattle in feedlots on Jan. 1 at 11.193 million head, or 94 per cent of the year-ago total. Analysts polled by Reuters, on average, expected 95.5 per cent.

Furthermore, the government said the number of cattle sold to packers, or marketings, in December was down two per cent from a year earlier, to 1.745 million head versus forecast for a 6.9 per cent reduction.

Analysts viewed Friday’s cattle report as bullish for Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures on Monday, with some analysts calling the market to rise by as much as 1.00 cents.

— Theopolis Waters writes for Reuters from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Michael Hirtzer.

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