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Cattle Slide on Speculation Meatpacker Demand Slowing; Hogs Rise

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Jan. 8 (Bloomberg) -- Cattle prices declined on signs that U.S. processors are purchasing fewer animals as beef demand weakens. Hog futures rose.

Meatpackers slaughtered 254,000 cattle in the first two days of this week, down 1.2 percent from a year earlier, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. The number of cattle available for sale has increased this week, Troy Vetterkind, the owner of Vetterkind Cattle Brokerage LLC, said in a report today. Wholesale-beef prices fell 0.5 percent last month, the most since July, USDA figures show.

“These packers have been pretty cautious the last 45 days about wanting to own a lot of inventory,” Lane Broadbent, a vice president at KIS Futures in Oklahoma City, said in a telephone interview. “They just haven’t been aggressive on buying a lot of cattle right now. They want demand to push us forward, and our demand hasn’t picked up in a big way yet.”

Cattle futures for February delivery slid 0.3 percent to settle at $1.3255 a pound at 1 p.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Last week, prices fell 0.5 percent, the first drop since Nov. 30.

Feeder-cattle futures for March settlement dropped 0.7 percent to close at $1.55 a pound in Chicago.

Hog futures for February settlement climbed 0.1 percent to close at 86.35 cents 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