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LIVESTOCK-CME live cattle firm, drought accelerates selling

By Christopher Walljasper

CHICAGO, Aug 17 (Reuters) - Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures climbed on Wednesday, underpinned as ranchers move up placements of calves amid drought conditions across the southern U.S. Plains, analysts said.

"The fall-weaned calves are starting to come through," said Austin Schroeder, commodity analyst at Brugler Marketing. "Placements have been pushed ahead, with the drought."

Cash cattle prices have remained stable this week, ranging from $148 per hundredweight (cwt) in the northern U.S. Plains to $140 per cwt in the southern plains, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said.

CME October live cattle futures climbed 0.175 cents to 145.850 cents per lb. Nearly every month found a new life-of-contract high.

CME September feeder cattle futures climbed 1.775 cents to 187.125 cents per lb.

In its monthly cattle on feed report on Friday, the USDA is expected to show a nearly unchanged number of feedlots compared to last year, according to a Reuters survey of analysts, while marketing of cattle in July is expected to fall 2.9% from a year earlier, with July placements down 1.5%.

Beef prices eased, with select cuts trimming $1.23 to $237.89 per cwt, while choice cuts lost $1.10 to $264.34 per cwt.

Lean hog futures gained, supported by unseasonably strong cash prices.

The CME's Lean Hog Index (.IHX) a two-day weighted average of cash hog prices eased 65 cents to $121.06 per cwt.

"It's come off its high, but it hasn't completely collapsed," said Schroeder. "It probably gave a little strength to the nearby October."

CME August October lean hogs added 1.475 cents to 98.050 cents per pound.

Wholesale pork prices eased, with pork carcasses trimming $2.68 to $118.47 per cwt, the USDA said. (Reporting by Christopher Walljasper; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)

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