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LIVESTOCK-CME cattle futures sag on long liquidation; cash trade awaited

By Julie Ingwersen

CHICAGO, Nov 1 (Reuters) - U.S. live cattle futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange closed lower in range-bound trade on Tuesday as speculators exited long positions amid a lack of supportive news, traders said.

CME December live cattle settled down 0.525 cent at 151.950 cents per lb but stayed inside of Monday's trading range. January feeder cattle finished down 1.250 cent at 178.200 cents per lb.

Traders were optimistic about firm prices for market-ready cattle this week after cash cattle traded last week at $150 per hundredweight (cwt) in the southern Plains. However, cash trading had yet to pick up on Tuesday.

Given that managed commodity funds expanded their net long position in CME live cattle futures by about 76% in the week to Oct. 25, the market was vulnerable to long liquidation.

"The path of least resistance, when you have a market loaded with fund longs, is to drift lower," said Dan Norcini, an independent livestock trader. "People are afraid to get in there and buy until they see that the cash (cattle trade) is going to be better," Norcini said.

Wholesale prices for choice cuts of beef ticked lower after rising for much of October. Choice cuts were priced at $262.63 per cwt on Tuesday afternoon, down $1.02 from Monday, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

CME hog futures ended mixed, with the benchmark December contract inching higher on bargain-buying after Monday's two-week low and hopes for increased Chinese pork demand. The December settled Tuesday up 0.275 cent at 85.200 cents per lb.

Cash hog prices maintained a premium to December futures, a factor that supported futures. The CME Lean Hog Index, a two-day weighted average of cash hog prices, rose by 2 cents to $93.79 per cwt.

The USDA quoted the U.S. pork carcass cutout value late Tuesday at $97.21 per cwt, down $2.73 from Monday. Hams fell by $6.79 to $103.31. (Reporting by Julie Ingwersen; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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