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Cattle Slump to Lowest Since July on Weak Beef Demand; Hogs Drop

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March 15 (Bloomberg) -- Cattle futures declined to the lowest since July as U.S. meat processors slowed purchases on signs of weakening demand for beef. Hogs also fell.

Meatpackers processed about 598,000 cattle in the first five days of this week, down 2.1 percent from a year earlier, U.S. Department of Agricultural data show. Wholesale beef at midday fell 0.2 percent to $1.9592 a pound, the lowest in a week, USDA data show. Prices have gained 0.9 percent this year, while wholesale pork is down 5.9 percent, government data show.

“Demand is still sluggish at the consumer level, and as such, buyers are reluctant to take on additional product,” Troy Vetterkind, the owner of Vetterkind Cattle Brokerage LLC in Thorp, Wisconsin, said in an e-mailed report. “Cattle futures continue to succumb to pressure on demand concerns and the deep discounts in the pork market.”

Cattle futures for June delivery fell 1.5 percent to settle at $1.213 a pound at 1 p.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, after touching $1.212, the lowest for the most-active contract since July 18.

Feeder-cattle futures for May settlement dropped 1.6 percent to close at $1.41075 a pound in Chicago after reaching $1.409, the lowest since Feb. 25.

Hog futures for June settlement retreated 1.3 percent to close at 89.325 cents a pound on the CME. The contract is down 2.4 percent this month.

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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