LIVESTOCK-Live cattle, lean hog futures set new contract highs

CHICAGO, April 5 (Reuters) - Strong meat demand pushed U.S. live cattle and lean hog futures to new contract highs on Monday.

The cattle market benefited from increasing demand for beef as the United States is entering the summer grilling season, analysts said.

Prices for choice cuts of boxed beef soared by $5.82 to $258.67 per cwt, while select cuts rose by $2.89 to $249.86 per cwt, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Rising demand for meat at restaurants helped support cattle and hog futures, analysts said, as expanding COVID-19 vaccinations encourage some consumers to eat more meals away from home.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange June live cattle settled up 1.875 cents at 124.425 cents per pound and set a contract high of 124.775 cents. May feeder cattle futures climbed 2.550 cents to close at 151.775 cents.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange June lean hogs set a new contract high of 107.400 cents per pound before turning lower. The contract settled 0.725 cent weaker at 105.600 cents per pound.

The hog market has benefited from solid export demand for U.S. pork, particularly from China, analysts said.

China’s agriculture ministry on Monday reported the Xinjiang region suffered the country’s latest outbreak of the deadly swine disease African swine fever, which has raised the need for meat imports.

In the United States, the number of hogs slaughtered by meatpackers on Monday dropped to 331,000 from 483,000 hogs a week ago and 475,000 hogs a year ago, according to the USDA. (Reporting by Tom Polansek in Chicgo; Editing by Christopher Cushing)