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CME cattle drop on fund selling, beef demand concerns

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By Karl Plume

CHICAGO, Nov 30 (Reuters) -Chicago Mercantile Exchange cattle futures dropped on Thursday after two sessions of gains, pressured by fund long liquidation and as higher corn feed prices and worries about demand for high-priced beef cuts hung over the market.

Technical selling accelerated the break, the live cattle market's sixth in the last eight sessions, despite firmer wholesale beef values and cash cattle prices that remain at a large premium to futures.

Prices were volatile at times as generally supportive fundamentals were overshadowed by speculative money flows, traders said.

"There's a lot of choppiness. People are unsure whether to go with the demand side of the equation, which is iffy, or the supply side, which is bullish longer term," said independent trader Dan Norcini, citing an historically small U.S. cattle herd.

Actively traded February live cattle LCG24 were 1.650 cents lower at 171.825 cents per pound, with technical selling accelerating the decline after prices failed to breach overhead chart resistance at its 10-day moving average.

January feeder cattle FCF24 were down 2.250 cents at 219.950 cents per pound, pressured by a 1.5% jump in benchmark corn futures prices on Thursday.

In a weekly report on Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said net U.S. beef export sales fell to 10,613 metric tons for shipment this year and next, down 26% from the prior week.

The choice boxed beef price on Thursday, however, rose $1.99 to $299.02 per cwt, while select cuts gained 66 cents to $264.75 per cwt, the USDA said.

CME lean hog futures firmed for a third straight day, a multi-session rally that have lifted prices by almost 7%.

February hogs LHG24 added 1.375 cents to settle at 71.475 cents per pound.

Reporting by Karl Plume; Editing by Shailesh Kuber


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