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cattle prices decline on signs of slack u.s. beef demand

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cattle prices fell on signs of slack demand for beef. hog futures also declined.

wholesale beef fell yesterday to a three-week low, and meatpackers processed 256,000 cattle in the first two days of this week, down 0.4 percent from a year earlier, u.s. department of agriculture data show. processors are losing $45 a head, mark schultz, the chief analyst at northstar commodity investment co. in minneapolis, said in a telephone interview.

“demand is still weak,” dick quiter, an account executive at mcfarland commodities llc in chicago, said in a telephone interview. “it’s kind of a snowballing situation. cattle numbers are down, but demand is down proportionally, and packers are losing money. that adds up to a lower market.”

cattle futures for april delivery dropped 0.3 percent to $1.34025 a pound at 10:03 a.m. on the chicago mercantile exchange. through yesterday, the price climbed 1.6 percent this month.

yesterday, wholesale beef declined 0.3 percent to $1.9346 a pound, the lowest since dec. 21.

feeder-cattle futures for march settlement fell 0.2 percent to $1.5005 a pound in chicago.

hog futures for april settlement dropped 0.1 percent to 87.525 cents a pound.