Livestock and meat prices were mixed in quiet trading Monday on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, but market watchers said cattle could be on the verge of long-term strength in response to a government report.
Anticipation of the USDA's report on the nationwide cattle inventory kept trading subdued and prices followed recent trends, with contracts for delivery in the next few months falling because of slack demand.
Contracts for delivery in subsequent months rallied on an expected decline in the cattle inventory number, said Chuck Levitt, a livestock analyst in Chicago with Shearson Lehman Bros.
The report, released after the close of trading, showed a decline of 3% from Jan. 1, 1984, with the total number at 109.8 million head.
Hogs and pork bellies were mostly lower Monday. Hogs for delivery this month were higher in response to shipping difficulties caused by the snow storm in the Midwest, Levitt said.
Recent weakness in cash prices for pork bellies on wholesale markets put pressure on pork belly futures, and heavy selling there also spilled into the hog pit, Levitt added.