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Cattle Drop on Signs of Slowing Meatpacker Demand; Hogs Steady

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Jan. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Cattle futures dropped to the lowest in more than two weeks on signs of slowing demand from U.S. beef processors. Hogs were little changed.

Spot steer prices averaged $1.21 a pound in the first four days of this week, down 2.4 percent from a week earlier, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. Wholesale beef declined 0.5 percent to $1.9034 a pound, the fourth straight drop, which marks the longest decline since Dec. 5, government data show.

“These packers think there’s enough supply around so they’re kind of waiting later in the week to buy cattle and kind of buying cattle hand to mouth,” Lane Broadbent, a vice president at KIS Futures Inc., said in a telephone interview from Oklahoma City. “They’ve been a lot more reluctant to move these bids higher.”

Cattle futures for February delivery fell 0.5 percent to settle at $1.20325 a pound at 1 p.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, after reaching $1.2015, the lowest since Dec. 21. Prices fell 0.9 percent this week, the second straight loss. The commodity is up 13 percent in the past year.

Feeder-cattle futures for March settlement dropped 0.6 percent to $1.49875 a pound in Chicago. Yesterday, prices reached a record $1.521.

Hog futures for February settlement rose 0.1 percent to settle at 83.9 cents a pound on the CME. The price, down 0.5 percent this week, rose 5.2 percent in the past 12 months.

Hogs slumped 2 percent in the previous two sessions, the biggest two-day loss in a week. The sell-off may be “overdone,” Mark Schultz, the chief analyst for Northstar Commodity Investment Co. in Minneapolis, said by telephone.

To contact the reporter on this story: Elizabeth Campbell in Chicago at ecampbell14@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at sstroth@bloomberg.net

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