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LIVESTOCK-CME live cattle futures ease ahead of U.S. holiday weekend

By P.J. Huffstutter

CHICAGO, June 29 (Reuters) - Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures eased on Wednesday, as packers prep for a short processing week after the Fourth of July holiday in the United States, traders said.

Packers' purchases are expected to slow by the end of the week, to avoid having pens full of animals waiting over the three-day holiday, said Karl Setzer, commodity risk analyst for AgriVisor.

"They're also wanting to see what beef demand will be after July 4, and if inflation pressures will be leading consumers to make different choices at the grocery store," Setzer said.

Beef processors slaughtered an estimated 124,000 cattle on Wednesday, down from 126,000 head a week earlier, but up from 120,000 head a year earlier, the USDA said.

Pork processors slaughtered an estimated 466,000 hogs on Wednesday, up from 462,000 hogs a year ago.

Meanwhile, packers' profit margins declined to $148.95 per head of cattle from $152.05 per head a week ago, while profit margins rose to $43.05 per hog from $29.85 per hog a week earlier, said livestock marketing advisory service HedgersEdge.com.

CME's benchmark August live cattle futures settled down 0.550 cent at 132.175 cents per pound. The spot June contract, which expires on Thursday, crept up 0.500 cent to finish at 136.800 cents.

CME August feeder cattle settled down 1.100 cents at 170.725 cents per pound, the lowest since June 16, amid ongoing pressure from volatility in the spot-corn futures market.

Lean hog futures were down, as traders adjusted their positions ahead of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's quarterly Hogs and Pigs report due Wednesday after markets close.

CME most-active August lean hog futures settled down 0.250 cent at 103.575 cents per pound. Front-month July hogs dropped 0.525 cent to 109.400 cents. (Reporting by P.J. Huffstutter; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)

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