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Cattle Prices Gain on Signs of Increasing Beef Demand; Hogs Rise

April 19 (Bloomberg) -- Cattle futures climbed the most in a week on signs of increasing demand for U.S. beef. Hogs capped the biggest gain in two weeks.

Wholesale-beef prices jumped 0.6 percent to $1.8687 a pound as of midday, the highest since March 23 and the fifth straight increase, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. Meatpackers processed an estimated 472,000 head of cattle this week, up 2.6 percent from the same period a week earlier, the USDA said.

“Boxed beef has been doing fine,” Mark Schultz, the chief analyst at Northstar Commodity Investment Co. in Minneapolis, said in a telephone interview. Current meat prices may allow processors to buy more cattle and bid higher for available supply, he said.

Cattle futures for June delivery rose 0.9 percent to settle at $1.1585 a pound at 1 p.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. That marks the biggest increase for the most-active contract since April 12. Prices have still retreated 4.6 percent this year.

Spot-steer prices averaged $1.2209 a pound in the first three days of this week, little changed from $1.2198 during the same period a week earlier, government data show.

Hog futures for June settlement increased 1.6 percent to settle at 88.775 cents a pound in Chicago, the biggest gain since April 5. Prices have climbed 5.3 percent this year.

Feeder-cattle futures for August settlement closed unchanged at $1.55525 a pound on the CME.

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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