LIVESTOCK-CME hogs touch contract high for fourth straight day

By Tom Polansek

CHICAGO, Feb 5 (Reuters) - U.S. lean hog futures extended their rally on Friday, setting a contract high for the fourth consecutive day on strong demand, while live cattle futures topped a one-year high.

Traders predicted Chinese buyers will continue to snap up American pork after the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday reported export sales to China last week hit a three-month high.

China, the world's top pork consumer, increased meat imports after a fatal pig virus began devastating its herd starting in August 2018. The country is attempting to rebuild the herd, but still grappling with disease.

U.S. exports of pork and pork products to China surged 75% in 2020 to a record $2.28 billion, USDA data showed.

Domestic demand for meat has also been solid as more U.S. restaurants are re-opening after COVID-19 restrictions, traders said.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) April lean hog futures closed up 1.00 cent at 80.300 cents per pound. The contract traded up to 80.625 cents, exceeding Thursday's life-of-contract high of 80.075 cents.

CME April live cattle closed 0.025 cent higher to 123.775 cents per pound and reached its highest price since Jan. 15, 2020, at 124.250 cents.

March feeder cattle slid 1.225 cents to close at 138.275 cents per pound, extending a retreat since hitting a five-month high of 144.850 on Jan. 25.

Prices for choice cuts of boxed beef edged up $0.33 to $234.58 per cwt on Friday, while select cut prices rose $0.35 to $220.79 per cwt, according to the USDA. (Reporting by Tom Polansek in Chicago; Editing by David Gregorio)

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