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Cattle Futures Decline on Signs of Weak Beef Demand; Hogs Gain

Cattle futures fell for the third time in four sessions on signs of weakening demand for U.S. beef. Hog prices advanced.

U.S. exporters shipped 2.06 billion pounds (933,060 metric tons) of beef in the 10 months through Oct. 31, down 12 percent from the same period a year earlier, government data showed today. Weak export and domestic demand are pressuring prices lower, said Dick Quiter, an account executive at McFarland Commodities LLC in Chicago.

“You either need to find some exports or find some domestic demand, which isn’t there right now,” Quiter said in a telephone interview. “Cattle could still struggle in the first quarter.”

Cattle futures for February delivery fell 0.1 percent to settle at $1.318 a pound at 1 p.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, after gaining as much as 0.3 percent. The commodity is up 8.5 percent this year as the U.S. herd shrunk.

Spot steers averaged $1.2306 a pound in the first two days of this week, down 0.5 percent from a week earlier, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. Wholesale beef slipped 0.1 percent to $1.9601 a pound as of midday, the first drop this week, USDA data show.

Feeder-cattle futures for January settlement climbed 0.4 percent to $1.5275 a pound on the CME, the sixth straight gain.

Hog futures for February settlement advanced 1.8 percent to close at 85.65 cents a pound in Chicago. Prices are up 1.6 percent this year.

U.S. pork exports, including variety meats, set monthly records in October, the U.S Meat Export Federation said in a statement today, citing USDA data. Shipments of the meat in October totaled 218,132 tons, valued at $607 million, the federation said.

“Export numbers definitely look supportive,” Doug Houghton, an analyst at Brock Associates, said in a telephone interview from Milwaukee. The gains may also be a technical move after prices lost 4 percent last week, he said.

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