December 22, 2017 / 7:34 PM / 5 months ago

U.S. Nov feedlot cattle placements bigger than expected

    * November placements up 13.9 pct vs year ago
    * Dec. 1 feedlot cattle at 108.1 pct of year ago
    * November marketing up 3.2 pct vs last year
    * U.S. total beef stocks at 487 million pounds

    By Theopolis Waters
    CHICAGO, Dec 22 (Reuters) - Ranchers drove 13.9 percent more
cattle into U.S. feedlots in November than the same time a year
ago, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported on Friday.
    The result exceeded the high end of the range of analysts'
forecasts, partly fueled by low feed prices in the wake of this
fall's bumper U.S. corn and soybean harvest, said analysts.
    They also cited dryness in parts of the U.S. Northern Plains
that landed cattle in states where feed is more plentiful.
    "The big numbers for placements were in Corn Belt states,
with the whopper being Minnesota up 37 percent from a year ago,"
said U.S. Commodities President Don Roose.
    November's larger-than-expected placement increase could
weigh on cattle prices this spring, while keeping beef costs low
for consumers, said analysts.
    USDA's report showed November placements at 2.099 million
head, up 13.9 percent from 1.843 million a year earlier. It was
above the average forecast of 1.948 million. 
    The government put the feedlot cattle supply as of Dec. 1 at
11.516 million head, up 8.1 percent from 10.652 million a year
ago. Analysts, on average, forecast a 6.7 percent rise.
    USDA said the number of cattle sold to packers, or
marketings, were up 3.2 percent in November from a year ago to
1.844 million head.
    Analysts had projected a gain of 3.0 percent from 1.787
million last year.
    On Friday USDA's monthly cold storage report showed total
November beef stocks at 487.0 million pounds, down 4 percent
from October and down 8 percent from a year earlier. 
    November beef stocks dropped 20 million pounds from the
month before, the largest decline for November since 1998,
confirms industry talk that retailers were heavily focused on
advertising beef, said Allendale Inc chief strategist Rich
Nelson.

 (Reporting by Theopolis Waters in Chicago; Editing by Tom
Brown)
  
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