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Cattle Prices Slide as Meatpacker Demand Declines; Hogs Gain

Cattle futures dropped on signs that demand for animals is slowing from U.S. beef processors. Hogs rose.

Meatpackers processed 589,000 head of cattle in the first five days of this week, down 1.5 percent from the same period a week earlier, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. Wholesale-beef prices as of midday fell to the lowest since March 4, according to the USDA.

“Boxed-beef prices are not moving extremely well, and these packers have got enough inventory that they can press this market a little bit and buy cattle on their terms,” Lane Broadbent, a vice president at KIS Futures Inc. in Oklahoma City, said by telephone today.

Cattle futures for June delivery declined 0.7 percent to settle at $1.21175 a pound at 1 p.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, leaving the contract down 0.1 percent for the week. Prices have dropped 8.4 percent this year.

Wholesale beef slipped 0.4 percent to $1.9217 a pound as of midday, USDA data show. Spot steers averaged $1.2477 a pound in the first five days of this week, down 1.4 percent from a year earlier, as weights climbed 3.6 percent, government data show.

Feeder-cattle futures for May settlement fell 0.2 percent to close at $1.4025 a pound in Chicago.

Hog futures for June settlement rose 0.2 percent to 89.725 cents a pound in Chicago, up 0.4 percent for the week. The price has climbed 4.7 percent this year.

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