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LIVESTOCK-CME feeder, live cattle firm as trade eyes supplies

By Christopher Walljasper

CHICAGO, Dec 2 (Reuters) - Feeder cattle futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange firmed on Friday, supported by lower feed grain costs and resilient live cattle futures, traders said.

"The market has held together well, so there's optimism there. Then you've got the grain market down double digits today, and down the day before," said Altin Kalo, economist at Steiner Consulting Group. "Cash prices have been pretty resilient. Usually this time of year you see them start to slip a little bit."

Most-active CME January feeder cattle added 1.375 cents to 182.450 cents per pound. For the week, the contract added 2.33%.

CME benchmark February live cattle gained 0.450 cent to 155.875 cents per pound. For the week, the contract added 0.48%.

The spot December contract firmed 0.300 cent to 153.350 cents per pound.

Cash cattle traded steady-to-firmer in the northern U.S. plains, as high as $159 per cwt., while the southern plains traded steady at $155 per cwt., the U.S. Department of Agriculture said.

"You look at the feedlot numbers, and they're lower, so there's less cattle out there. The feedlot operators are going to get more current. I think the days of running big kills are behind us."

Boxed beef prices dropped on Friday, with choice cuts losing $3.64 cents to $249.93 per cwt, while select cuts lost 44 cents to $224.56 per cwt, the USDA said.

Meanwhile, CME February lean hogs added 1.225 cents to 90.425 cents per pound. For the week, February hogs gained 2.18%.

"The cash hog market has been fairly resilient. Hog weights have been light, telling you the producer is very current. And the ham market hasn't fallen out of bed yet," said Kalo.

Nearby December hogs eased 0.700 cent to 82.425 cents per pound.

The CME's lean hog index, a two-day weighted average of cash hog prices, fell 65 cents to $83.24 per cwt. (Reporting by Christopher Walljasper; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)

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