Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Beef futures fall the limit in mad cow aftermath



The Associated Press

CHICAGO - Beef futures fell the maximum amount allowed on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange Monday for the third straight trading session since the emergence of the first U.S. case of mad cow disease.

The report last Tuesday that a cow in Washington state was tentatively diagnosed with mad cow disease already had prompted the Chicago Merc to increase the limit on daily trading movement to 3 cents a contract, up from the usual 1.5 cents, Friday and to 5 cents Monday.

With a ban on U.S. beef imports by more than two dozen nations still in place, near-term cattle futures all fell to the new limit Monday. Live cattle for delivery in February - the current benchmark contract - fell 5 cents to 81.17 cents a pound.

Concerned about the impending expiration of the December contract Wednesday, the exchange took emergency action for a second time to raise the daily trading limit for that contract Tuesday. The Merc said that if the contract again falls the 5-cent limit Tuesday morning and stays there for an hour, an additional 2.5 cents would be allowed for a maximum fall for the trading day of 7.5 cents.

"It was just exhausting in the pit today," said Phil Stanley, independent floor-based analyst and trader. "Things appear to have sorted themselves out in this country, but now everyone has to wait to see what will happen overseas with our export markets."




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