Cattle futures climbed to a three- week high on signs of increasing demand for U.S. beef and the outlook for tighter supplies. Hogs also rose.
Meatpackers processed 426,000 head of cattle in the first four days of this week, down 4.3 percent from a week earlier, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show. Steers averaged $1.26 a pound in the first three days of this week, up 2.6 percent from $1.2282 a week earlier, USDA data show.
“The combination of the cash market and the lower slaughter, that’s really the driving force” behind today’s rally, Christian Mayer, a market adviser at Northstar Commodity Investments Co., said in a telephone interview from Minneapolis.
Cattle futures for April delivery rose 0.5 percent to $1.30475 a pound at 9:48 a.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, after reaching $1.30725, the highest for the most- active contract since Feb. 8. The commodity dropped 2.2 percent in February, snapping a four-month rally.
Wholesale beef prices have climbed 1.8 percent this week to $1.8616 a pound yesterday, heading for the biggest weekly gain since Oct. 19, USDA data show.
Feeder-cattle futures for May settlement added 0.3 percent to $1.4845 a pound.
Hog futures for April settlement increased 0.8 percent to 81.675 cents a pound on the CME. Prices fell 9.3 percent last month, the biggest decline since July.
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