Cattle futures prices Friday settled slightly lower, pulling back from the day's highs as rising crude oil prices blunted optimism about economic strength.
The April live cattle contract settled 0.15 cent a pound, or 0.13%, lower at $1.1405. June was off 0.10c, or 0.09%, at $1.1505.
March feeder cattle were 0.02c, or 0.02%, lower at $1.2995. April was down 0.25c, or 0.19%, at $1.3182.
A short-covering rally early was stemmed by a mixed unemployment report and reports that cash cattle continued to trade in the Plains at this week's record-high prices of $1.12 to $1.13 a pound on a live basis. Analysts and traders said packers were aggressive because they needed the cattle to fill product orders.
Prices were supported during the day by speculation that cash prices could rise to another record next week.
However, crude oil prices, which were flat early in the day, began to rise as fighting raged in Libya, said Troy Vetterkind, director of livestock analysis and trading for Vetterkind Cattle Brokerage. Nymex crude rose above $104 a barrel, a new two-year high and leading to speculation that gasoline prices won't be coming down.
Stock prices tumbled on the prospect of higher costs to consumers, and the Dow Jones Industrial Average put in its second straight losing week.
Vetterkind said traders were not sure of the total effect of the higher oil and gasoline prices, but took profits in many food-based commodities before the weekend as a precaution.
Joe Ocrant, president of Oak Investment Group, said action in the live cattle pit was dull, allowing prices to swing easily.
The USDA at midday reported its composite wholesale carcass price for choice beef at $173.47 a hundred pounds, up $0.59 from Thursday. For select beef, the price was up $0.16 to $172.54. The volume of sales totaled a light 83 loads of steaks and roasts and 25 of trimmings and coarse grinds.
Urner Barry's Yellow Sheet, a trade publication, at midday said several cuts were higher in price, with the middle meats, or steak items, showing particular strength. Beef processors appeared to be reacting to higher cattle costs after paying record high prices this week. They also saw hints of rising interest for middle meats as the start of Spring is less than three weeks away. End cuts, or roasts were flat.