Traverse City Record-Eagle

Business

August 10, 2013

Futures File: Cattle prices stampede skyward

Cattle prices charged to the highest price in more than four months after a major meatpacker announced it would stop buying cattle fed with a broadly used feed additive.

The supplement, known as Zilmax, is used to help promote weight gain in cattle. Cattle prices exploded in the wake of the announcement, climbing the exchange’s maximum three cents per pound, on fears that U.S. beef supplies would drop in the wake of the decision.

Some traders are wary of grabbing this bull market by the horns, especially if other beef processors don’t follow suit in changing requirements. Additionally, with corn worth only $4.60 per bushel on Friday, cattle feeders may find larger profit margins in coming months, encouraging them to increase production and the available beef supply.

As of midday Friday, live cattle for October delivery were worth $1.27 per pound, up 2.5 cents (+2 percent) this week.

Cocoa Market Warms Up

Cocoa prices burst to the highest price this year on Thursday, pushing over $2,500 per metric ton. The market has been gaining ground recently amid exceptionally strong demand among North American companies that buy cocoa beans for processing into cocoa powder, butter and liquor.

Further adding to the rally were weather reports from Ghana and the Ivory Coast that indicated continued dry weather, which could crimp the crop size in those two nations that produce over half of the global cocoa crop. As of midday Friday, cocoa for delivery in September was worth $2,465, up $170 (+7.4 percent) during the week.

Platinum Sparks Higher

Platinum prices revved up on Friday to the highest price in nearly two months, reaching over $1,500 per ounce. The market was boosted by news of another miners’ strike in South Africa, home to three-fourths of the world’s platinum production. In the past, striking workers in South Africa have had major impacts on the platinum market, with global production dropping by more than 10% during heavy striking in South Africa.

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