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CME cattle futures firm on bargain buying, grain futures falling

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CHICAGO — Chicago Mercantile Exchange cattle futures firmed on Monday amid a spate of bargain buying after a recent slump in prices helped mute market impact of the bearish results of the latest Cattle on Feed report from the federal Agriculture Department, traders said.

Cattle futures also were boosted by a sharp drop in grain futures due to technical selling, and well-timed rains in Argentina’s farm belt, according to livestock analysts.

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CME lean hog futures closed lower.

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CME February live cattle settled up 0.850 cent at 157.475 cents per pound, and most-active April ended up 0.625 cent at 160.55 cents per pound.

CME March feeder cattle futures rose 2.300 cents to settle at 183.275 cents per pound.

Traders said they expect the cash cattle market prices to be steady to slightly higher this week, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture noted on Monday that Oklahoma City feeder steers, heifers and calves were steady to lower at auction.

On Monday, cattle slaughter rates were slightly down, as were wholesale beef values. Choice cuts priced by the USDA on Monday morning were at $271.11 per cwt, down 61 cents from the previous day, and select cuts were down 57 cents at $255.86 per cwt.

Still, “packer margins are showing that packers are making more than $80 a head, so they have money in their pocket,” said Don Roose, president of Iowa-based U.S. Commodities. “Now, as the economy continues to go forward and given the past patterns of cyclical bull markets, how high are the new highs for cattle?”

February lean hog futures ended down 0.250-cent at 77.575 cents per pound. Most-active April hogs eased 0.275-cent to 85.450 cents per pound. (Reporting by P.J. Huffstutter; Editing by Maju Samuel)

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