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LIVESTOCK-Hog futures ease after hitting contract highs, cattle firm

CHICAGO, March 24 (Reuters) - Chicago Mercantile Exchange hog futures were mostly lower on Thursday as traders locked in profits after many contracts rallied to fresh highs on Wednesday.

Weak exports of pork added pressure to the hog market.

Most-active June lean hog futures eased 0.9 cent to finish at 122.075 cents per pound. The June contract faced resistance at the high end of its 20-day Bollinger range.

Although most hog contracts finished in negative territory, the front-month April lean hog futures rose 0.225 cent to end at 102.775 cents per pound.

CME’s most-active June live cattle gained 0.975 cent to 136.95 cents per pound.

May feeder cattle futures rose 0.7 cent to 166.5 cents per pound. Resistance was noted near the contract’s 200-day moving average.

Analysts were expecting a U.S. Agriculture Department report on Friday to show that the amount of cattle on feed as of March 1 was 101.1% of the year-earlier total. Placements during February were 106.1% of February 2021 and marketings were 104.2% of the year-ago total.

The USDA on Thursday morning said that weekly export sales of beef totaled 27,600 tonnes and pork export sales totaled 23,200 tonnes. The beef total was 40% higher than last week and the pork total was 39% lower.

Choice cuts of boxed beef rose by $1.45 to $263.05 per cwt by Thursday morning, according to USDA data. Select cuts gained 77 cents $252.47 per cwt. (Reporting by Mark Weinraub; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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