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Cattle Advance on Signs of Higher Beef Demand; Hogs Slump

Cattle futures gained for the sixth time in seven sessions on signs of increasing demand for beef in the U.S. as meatpacking plants process fewer animals. Hog prices declined to the lowest since November.

Wholesale beef as of midday rose for an eighth straight session to the highest in more than five weeks, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. Meatpackers last week processed 534,000 head of cattle, down 2.6 percent from a week earlier. Pork prices fell 0.3 percent last week.

“The difference between the cattle and hog markets is that beef values are at the highest since January, so that puts support under the cattle,” Chad Henderson, an analyst at Prime Agricultural Consulting Inc. in Brookfield, Wisconsin, said in a telephone interview. “Pork-product movement has been relatively flat.”

Cattle futures for April delivery gained 0.3 percent to settle at $1.3035 a pound at 1 p.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Last week, the price advanced 1.3 percent, the most since mid-December.

Feeder-cattle for May settlement rose 0.2 percent to $1.47725 a pound.

Hog futures for April settlement dropped 1 percent to 80.3 cents a pound. The price touched 80.05 cents, the lowest for a most-active contract since Nov. 9. In February, the price tumbled 9.3 percent, the most since July.

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