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Cattle futures mark new all-time high

01/22/2014 @ 2:10pm

U.S. live-cattle futures surged by the exchange-imposed daily limit to their highest prices ever, extending a rally fueled by an historically tight supply of slaughter-ready cattle.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange February live-cattle are now up 2.95 cents, or 2.1%, at $1.445 a pound, the highest intraday price for the spot contract ever. April live-cattle are up 2.3 cents at $1.42525 a pound.

The cattle market has moved sharply higher over the past month, lifted by fresh peaks in wholesale beef prices. If retailers are willing to pay up to secure hamburgers, steaks, and other beef products, meatpackers have more incentive to bid aggressively for cattle. Cash prices have soared to new records, with trade reported Wednesday as high as $1.47 a pound live, which is still three cents a pound higher than the front-month futures contract.

Also, freezing temperatures have slowed or completely stopped weight gains for cattle in commercial feedyards, encouraging many owners to hold off for more aggressive bids by packers.

Market watchers are uncertain how long cattle and beef prices can remain in record territory if retailers find it difficult to pass on higher costs to consumers.

Write to Kelsey Gee at kelsey.gee@wsj.com

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(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 22, 2014 13:35 ET (18:35 GMT)

DJ U.S. Cattle Futures Climb By Daily Limit on Record Cash, Beef Prices->copyright

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