LIVESTOCK-Cattle futures hit 6-1/2 week high on third day of gains

CHICAGO, May 18 (Reuters) - U.S. live cattle futures rose for the third day in a row on Monday, hitting their highest since April 1, with ongoing strength in the cash markets leading the way higher, traders said.

Hog contracts were lower, with the front-month contract sinking to its lowest since April 29.

The nearby CME June live cattle futures contract settled Monday up 1.725 cents at 98.725 cents per lb, while August live cattle ended up 1.025 cent at 98.850 cents per lb.

June live cattle futures faced technical resistance at the contract’s 100-day moving average, a level it has not risen above since January 24.

Feeder cattle contracts also were stronger, with the August contract rising 1.475 cents to 132.55 cents per lb.

CME June lean hogs eased 0.225 cent to 57.650 cents per lb and the July contract ended down 0.1 cent at 57.650 cents per lb.

New Hope Group, one of China’s biggest pig breeders, expects the country’s hog output to recover from last year’s disease epidemic by 2021, while prices will start to fall after a rush of new entrants into pig farming, chairman Liu Yonghao said on Monday.

CME Group said on Monday it was changing the trading rules regarding its live cattle and feeder cattle contracts to ensure they had the same price limits on every trading day. Previously, price limits for one of the contracts could expand after limit moves while the other stayed the same. (Reporting by Mark Weinraub; Editing by Tom Brown)