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Cattle Prices Rally to Six-Week High on Beef Demand; Hogs Gain

Cattle futures rose to a six-week high on signs that slaughterhouses are boosting purchases to meet rising demand for U.S. beef. Hog prices climbed.

Meatpackers processed 377,000 head of cattle in the first three days of this week, up 1.9 percent from a week earlier, while wholesale beef climbed 0.3 percent yesterday to $1.9161 a pound, the highest since March 19, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. Demand is increasing before the Memorial Day holiday on May 28, when many Americans grill outdoors, said Lawrence Kane, a market adviser at Stewart-Peterson Group.

“We are approaching Memorial Day weekend, which is a good beef weekend,” Kane said in a telephone interview from Yates City, Illinois. “There’s some optimism there that we’re going to get some beef moved.”

Cattle futures for August delivery rose 0.2 percent to settle at $1.1895 a pound at 1 p.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, after reaching $1.191, the highest for a most-active contract since March 30. Prices are down 2.1 percent this year.

Feeder-cattle futures for August settlement advanced 0.4 percent to $1.58325 a pound in Chicago.

Hog futures for June settlement rose 0.1 percent to settle at 86.5 cents a pound in Chicago. The commodity has gained 2.6 percent this year.

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