U.S. cattle placements spike in August, portending more beef in 2018

CHICAGO, Sept 22 (Reuters) – Ranchers placed 1.93 million cattle in U.S. feedlots in August, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Friday, in a stronger-than-expected report likely to weigh on futures early next week.

Cattle placements rose about 3 percent from August in 2016, USDA said. Analysts polled by Reuters had predicted a decline of nearly 3 percent.

The placements were the largest for August since 2012 and the largest overall since May of this year, when 2.119 million cattle moved into feedlots, according to USDA data.

“It means there’s more beef ahead of us,” said Linn Group analyst John Ginzel, who had predicted a placement spike of 104.3 percent when most other analysts anticipated a decline.

Cattle placed on feed in August should reach slaughter weight in the first quarter of 2017.

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“It’s a negative report … and most negative for the February and April time slots,” said U.S. Commodities analyst Don Roose.

Roose predicted Chicago Mercantile Exchange cattle futures would open 0.500 cent to 1.000 cent lower on Monday. CME October live cattle on Friday reached a roughly 1-1/2 month high, settling up 1.475 cents at 111.575 cents per pound, rising in part on expectations that the USDA data would be bullish.

USDA said a total of 10.5 million cattle were on feed as of Sept. 1, up 4 percent from a year ago. That also was more than pre-report estimates for 10.409 million cattle, or 102.7 percent of last year. Marketings of cattle in August totaled 1.98 million head, up 6 percent from a year ago but near forecasts
for an increase of 5.8 percent.

In a separate monthly cold storage report, USDA said 476.26 million pounds of beef were in storage as of Aug. 31. That is up from 431.84 million pounds at the end of July and estimates from a few analysts for 426.5 million pounds.   

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