After having fallen sharply on negative cash news and the announcement of a Cargill plant closing Thursday, cattle futures continued their slide Friday morning. Bullish traders would probably like to think the recent breakdown has largely incorporated the bad news, but the late-morning wholesale report was not encouraging. That is, packers were apparently forced to lower their asking prices for beef again, since cutout values fell 1.18-1.84 cents from their Thursday close. Given that news and the looming three-day weekend, cattle futures seem likely to end the week on a poor note. February cattle dove 0.82 cents to 125.82 cents/pound in late-morning action, while April tumbled 0.72 cents to 130.15.
Hog futures held up well in the face of big cattle losses Thursday and continued that pattern this morning. Swine traders may be ambivalent about the hog and pork outlook from this point, since plunging cattle and beef prices could change industry perceptions concerning the comparative cheapness of wholesale pork. Conflicting reports concerning Friday morning cash market direction may also have limited the Chicago reaction. Those developments, as well as a lack of wholesale news, may be the underlying reasons CME lean hog futures were widely mixed in early trading. February hogs had fallen 0.45 cents to 85.50 cents/pound just before lunch, whereas June futures had climbed 0.35 cents to 97.00.