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U.S. cattle futures sag on fears about economy, beef demand

By Julie Ingwersen

CHICAGO, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Live cattle futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange eased on Friday, following as global financial markets fell after U.S. President Donald Trump tested positive for the coronavirus, adding to investor uncertainty.

Disappointing U.S. job growth numbers heightened worries about consumer demand for beef, at a time when retailers are starting to stock meat cases for the end-year holidays. U.S. nonfarm payrolls increased by 661,000 jobs last month, below consensus expectations of 850,000.

"I think a lot of today was nervousness over the economy and COVID," said Doug Houghton, analyst at Brock Capital Management, referring to declines in cattle futures.

CME October live cattle settled down 0.350 cent at 108.175 cents per pound and most-active December ended down 0.725 cent at 111.100 cents.

However, cattle futures had underlying support from firm cash markets. Fat cattle traded in the U.S. Plains this week at $107 per cwt, up about $2 from last week.

Feeder cattle futures fell for a third straight session on rising prices for corn, the main cattle feed grain, after the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday reported tighter-than-expected Sept. 1 corn supplies.

CME November feeder cattle ended Friday down 1.375 cents at 139.875 cents per pound.

Lean hog futures closed mixed, with the nearby October contract supported by strong demand for pork and firm cash hog markets.

CME October lean hogs settled up 0.350 cent at 74.500 cents per pound, while most-active December hogs ended down 0.350 cent at 62.500 cents.

The CME's lean hog index, a two-day weighted average of cash markets, climbed to $76.74 per cwt, its highest since August 2019. The U.S. pork cutout, an indication of wholesale pork prices, was down $3.50 at $92.15 per cwt on Friday afternoon, but up from $74.54 at the start of September. (Reporting by Julie Ingwersen; Editing by David Gregorio)

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