Cattle climb as U.S. herd declines to 61-year low

Cattle futures rose for the first time in a week after a government report showed the size of the U.S. herd fell to 61-year low, signaling tightening beef supplies. Hog prices dropped.

Beef and dairy farmers held 89.3 million head of cattle as of Jan. 1, down 1.6% from the start of 2012, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said in a report after the close of regular trading on Feb. 1. That’s the smallest herd since 1952. The most-severe drought since the 1930s reduced livestock-feed supplies and destroyed pastures, spurring ranchers to shrink herds.

“It’s a bullish report from a supply standpoint,” Dennis Smith, an analyst at Archer Financial Services in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “We’re still shrinking.”

Cattle futures for April delivery climbed 0.6% to $1.3295 a pound 9:28 a.m. on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, poised for the first gain since Jan. 28.

Feeder-cattle futures for March settlement dropped less than 0.1% to $1.49175 a pound.

Hog futures for April settlement fell 0.4% to 88.425 cents a pound. Earlier, the price touched 88.275 cents, the lowest for a most-active contract since Jan. 24.

Bloomberg News

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