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Cattle Slide on Slowing Meatpacker Demand for Animals; Hogs Rise

Cattle futures dropped the most this week on signs of slowing demand from U.S. meatpackers. Hog prices rose.

About 481,000 cattle were slaughtered during the first four days of this week, down 2.2 percent from the same period a year earlier, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. Wholesale- beef prices that reached a four-month high yesterday dropped 0.4 percent at midday to $1.9676 a pound, the lowest since March 6 and the largest decline in almost four weeks, government data show.

“Slaughter numbers are dropping again,” Lawrence Kane, a market adviser at Stewart-Peterson Group in Yates City, Illinois, said in a telephone interview. That triggers “a little bit of a concern for the demand,” he said.

Cattle futures for April delivery slid 0.4 percent to close at $1.2805 a pound at 1 p.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the biggest decline for the most-active contract since March 8. The commodity is down 3.2 percent this year.

Feeder-cattle futures for May settlement declined 0.8 percent to close at $1.433 a pound in Chicago.

Hog futures for June settlement rose 0.5 percent to close at 90.525 cents a pound on the CME, after falling as much as 0.9 percent. The contract is down 1 percent this month.

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