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Cattle Fall on Weakening Demand for U.S. Beef; Hogs Drop

Jan. 4 (Bloomberg) -- Cattle futures dropped for the first time in three days on signs of slowing demand for U.S. beef. Hog prices also fell.

Slaughterhouses are losing about $50 a head on cattle and buying only the minimum number needed, said Mark Schultz, the chief analyst at Northstar Commodity Investment Co. About 127,000 head were processed today, down 2.3 percent from a week earlier, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. Wholesale beef was $1.9482 a pound as of midday, little changed from yesterday’s three-week high of $1.9491, according to the USDA.

“There is not strong enough demand in the domestic sector for beef,” Schultz said in a telephone interview from Minneapolis.

Cattle futures for February delivery fell 0.7 percent to settle at $1.3295 a pound at 1 p.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Prices dropped 0.5 percent this week, the first slide since Nov. 30.

Feeder-cattle futures for March settlement climbed 0.9 percent to $1.56325 a pound on the CME.

Hog futures for February settlement dropped 0.2 percent to close at 86.225 cents a pound in Chicago. The price gained 0.8 percent in the two previous days.

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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