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U.S. livestock: Live cattle, lean hogs mostly lower

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. livestock futures were mostly lower on Monday, with both live cattle and lean hogs succumbing to pressure from technical selling and expectations for weaker cash prices, traders and analysts said.

Prices for each eased amid a lack of fresh fundamental news to propel gains. Hogs had climbed last week, lifted in part on optimism that top pork consumer China could begin buying U.S. soybeans, pork and other goods for the first time in months as the world’s two largest economies negotiated to end a trade war.

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But with few signs of new Chinese demand, prices for hogs have given back some of last week’s gains.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange February lean hog futures fell 1.05 cents, to 66.825 cents/lb. (all figures US$).

CME February live cattle was down 0.325 cent, to 121.2 cents/lb., easing for the third straight session after hitting a multi-week high on Dec. 5.

Thinly traded CME January feeder cattle futures were up 0.65 cent, to 145.025 cents.

Prices for hogs and cattle, and pork and beef, often decline around this time of year after retailer buying ahead of the holiday season slows. Many retailers have already purchased the meat they need to sell for the Christmas and New Year’s Day holidays at the end of the month.

“It feels like holiday trade is under way,” one independent futures trader said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said it was rescheduling the release of its monthly Cattle on Feed report and quarterly Hogs and Pigs report to Dec. 20, a day earlier than previously planned. No reason was offered.

Weekly data released by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission on Monday showed that in the week ended Dec. 4 speculative investors boosted their net long, or bullish, stake in live cattle futures. The investors also trimmed their net long in hogs and extended a net short in feeder cattle.

— Michael Hirtzer reports on commodity markets for Reuters from Chicago.

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