Live cattle futures prices posted modest gains Friday on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and experts predicted a surge next week after a government report showed an unexpectedly sharp drop in May placements of cattle on feedlots.
On other markets, energy prices tumbled, grains and soybeans were mixed and precious metals retreated.
Live cattle settled .13 cent to .30 cent higher with the contract for delivery in June at 71.70 cents a pound; feeder cattle were unchanged to .18 cent lower with August at 80.97 cents a pound; live hogs were .05 cent to .60 cent higher with June at 48.22 cents a pound; frozen pork bellies were .38 cent lower to 1.15 cents higher with July at 33.92 cents a pound.
Cattle futures prices had been rising ahead of the Agriculture Department's monthly cattle-on-feed report.
Expectations were that it would show about a 15% decline in the number of cattle placed on feedlots last month in the seven largest producer states, compared with the record-high placements of May, 1988.
But the USDA indicated an even sharper drop in May placements, reporting 25% fewer cattle were moved from pastures to feedlots last month than in the same period a year ago.