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LIVESTOCK-CME live cattle end higher ahead of monthly USDA report

By Julie Ingwersen

CHICAGO, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Benchmark live cattle futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) rose on Thursday for a third straight session on steady to firmer cash cattle markets and position-squaring a day ahead of a monthly U.S. government feedlot report, analysts said.

Most-active CME February live cattle futures settled up 1.150 cents at 155.400 cents per pound after reaching 155.450 cents, the contract's highest since Nov. 2. The spot December contract rose 0.950 cent to finish at 152.750 cents per pound. CME January feeder cattle jumped 2.500 cents to settle at 179.975 cents per pound.

"The cash market seems pretty firm. We would have thought steady to lower this week," said Doug Houghton, analyst at Brock Capital Management.

Packers are buying cattle for a shortened week of slaughter next week due to the Nov. 24 Thanksgiving holiday. But they will have fewer days to buy cattle for a full schedule the week after Thanksgiving.

Market-ready cattle traded in Kansas at $151 to $152 per hundredweight (cwt), up $1 to $2 from last week, and in Texas at $150 to $151 per cwt, steady to $1 higher, traders said.

Brokers await the U.S. Department of Agriculture's monthly Cattle on Feed report on Friday. Analysts surveyed by Reuters on average expected the government to report the number of cattle in U.S. feedlots as of Nov. 1 at 11.745 million head, down 1.7% from a year ago. Analysts on average estimated feedlot placements in October at 2.168 million head, down 3.5% from a year ago.

Wholesale beef prices were nearly flat as of Thursday afternoon. The USDA reported choice cuts at $257.10 per cwt, up a penny from Wednesday, while select cuts rose 39 cents at $231.74 per cwt.

CME lean hog futures closed mostly higher in technical moves, with the most-active February contract settling up 0.450 cent at 90.800 cents per pound. But front-month December fell 0.600 cent to end at 84.975 cents as cash hog prices softened.

The CME Lean Hog Index, a two-day weighted average of cash hog prices, declined to $88.22 per cwt, its lowest since February. (Reporting by Julie Ingwersen)

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