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Hog Futures Climb as U.S. Pork Demand May Increase; Cattle Drop

Hog futures gained for the first time in five sessions on speculation that the lowest U.S. pork prices in a month will spur buying from retailers. Cattle fell.

Yesterday, wholesale pork fell 1.7 percent to 76.11 cents a pound, the lowest since Nov. 1, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture data. The price declined as animal weights last week rose to the highest level since at least 2002. Hog futures dropped 3 percent in the previous four sessions, and cattle jumped yesterday to a 27-month high.

“With cattle trading at these kind of prices over hogs, it makes pork look a little more attractive on the retail end,” said Dick Quiter, an account executive at McFarland Commodities LLC in Chicago.

Hog futures for February settlement rose 0.75 cent, or 1 percent, to settle at 76 cents a pound at 1:14 p.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The price has gained 16 percent this year.

Hog carcasses averaged almost 210 pounds (95 kilograms) on Nov. 26, the most since at least 2002, according to USDA data.

Cattle futures for February delivery dropped 0.3 cent, or 0.3 percent, to $1.06475 a pound.

Meatpackers processed 521,000 cattle in the first four days of this week, up 5.3 percent from a year ago, according to the USDA.

“In the cattle, we’ve had a pretty good run,” Quiter said. “The packers may have what they need to be caught up for the minute and may not be as aggressive in the next couple of weeks coming into the Christmas holiday.”

Cattle have gained 24 percent this year.

Feeder-cattle futures for January settlement rose 0.275 cent, or 0.2 percent, to $1.18675 a pound. On Nov. 30, the price reached $1.20175, the highest for a most-active contract since the commodity started trading on Nov. 30, 1971.

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