Cattle Head for First Gain in Week on Tight Supply; Hogs Steady

Cattle futures climbed for the first time in more than a week on signs of tightening beef supplies. Hog prices were little changed.

Japan will allow imports of U.S. beef from cattle up to 30- months old, up from 20 months, as early as Feb. 1, Health Minister Norihisa Tamura told reporters in Tokyo today. The Food Safety Commission recommended the change in October, saying it wouldn’t increase health risks. Cargill Inc. said last week that it will idle a beef-processing plant because of shrinking supplies of animals.

There’s been a “double confirmation of tight beef supplies,” Dennis Smith, an analyst at Archer Financial Services in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “We had confirmation from Cargill last week,” he said, followed by Japan’s move, acknowledging “how tight beef supplies are going to get this year.”

Cattle futures for April delivery rose 0.7 percent to $1.307 a pound at 9:54 a.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. A gain today would be the first increase for the most-active contract since Jan. 14.

Japan was the biggest buyer of U.S. beef before an outbreak of mad cow disease in 2003. It lifted a two-year ban in 2005 that was imposed to safeguard against the brain-wasting ailment.

Feeder-cattle futures for March settlement increased 0.4 percent to $1.4695 a pound on the CME.

Hog futures for April settlement added 0.1 percent to 88.2 cents a pound in Chicago.

-- With assistance from Aya Takada and Yasumasa Song in Tokyo. Editors: Daniel Enoch, Millie Munshi

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Campbell in Chicago at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at

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