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Cattle Rises as U.S. Beef-Export Demand Increases; Hogs Gain

Cattle futures rose, capping the biggest annual gain in 32 years, on signs that demand for U.S. beef exports is increasing as the dollar slumps. Hogs also climbed.

The greenback fell for a seventh session against a basket of major currencies. U.S. exporters sold 17,703 metric tons of beef in the week ended Dec. 23, the most since mid-October, the Department of Agriculture said yesterday. Spot-cattle prices have jumped to the highest since October 2003, and wholesale choice beef climbed for four straight days, USDA data show.

“It’s a demand-led market,” said Mark Schultz, the chief analyst at Northstar Commodity Investment Co. in Minneapolis. “With the lower dollar, the appetite for beef globally and U.S. export demand continues to be very good.”

Cattle futures for February delivery rose 1.025 cents, or 1 percent, to settle at $1.0835 a pound at noon on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The price is up 26 percent for 2010, the biggest annual gain since 1978.

Feeder-cattle futures for March settlement advanced 1.025 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $1.2395 a pound. Yesterday, the price reached $1.2495, the highest since the commodity started trading in November 1971.

Wholesale choice beef rose to $1.6319 a pound yesterday, up 2.7 percent this week, while spot-market steers sold for $1.0626 in the first three days of this week, up 3.7 percent from the same period last week.

“Even though packer margins have not been very profitable, you see them looking for cattle,” Schultz said. “There are going to be less numbers of cattle available after the first of the year.”

Hog futures for February settlement rose 0.9 cent, or 1.1 percent, to 79.75 cents a pound. Prices are up 22 percent in 2010, the biggest annual gain since 2004.

Livestock trading closed early for the New Year’s Eve holiday.

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