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CME live cattle futures firm on positioning before USDA report

Oct 31 (Reuters) - CME live cattle futures turned higher on
Thursday, with investors adjusting positions ahead of the U.S.
Department of Agriculture monthly cattle-on-feed report at 2
p.m. CDT (1900 GMT), traders said.
    * Analysts polled by Reuters said U.S. feedlot cattle
placements likely increased 1.2 percent in September from a year
earlier as lower-cost corn encouraged feedlots to buy young
cattle to fatten. 
    * Also on Thursday, the USDA will simultaneously release its
monthly cold storage report, including September total beef and
pork inventories.
    * Both reports will be released while CME livestock markets
trade electronically after the pit sessions close. * CME live cattle also gained in anticipation of at least steady cash prices this week as wholesale beef prices worked higher. * There were no deliveries posted by CME late Wednesday against the October live cattle contract, expiring Thursday at noon CDT (1700 GMT). * The USDA weekly export report Thursday morning showed U.S. beef sales last week at 55,500 tonnes, mostly to Mexico, compared with 10,400 tonnes the previous week. * "The government is playing catch-up from the shutdown by essentially lumping three weeks of export data into one, which distorts the results," a trader said. * South Korea plans to end its ban on animal feed additive zilpaterol early next year, a senior food ministry official said, opening the door to beef imports containing the growth enhancer and its domestic sale. LIVE CATTLE - At 8:51 a.m. CDT (1351 GMT), October was up 0.300 cent at 133.650 cents per lb. December was at 133.500 cents, up 0.375 cent. * Cash cattle bids surfaced in Texas and Kansas at $130 per cwt (hundredweight), with no response from sellers, feedlot sources said. * Bullish traders anticipated cash cattle trading steady to higher with last week's record-high price of $132 per cwt.
* They said overall tight cattle numbers and the recent surge in wholesale beef values can lend cash support. * Market bears contend packers will cut back slaughter to avoid spending more for supplies and recoup lost margins. * FEEDER CATTLE - October was up 0.075 cent to 165.300 cents per lb, while November was at 165.400 cents, 0.450 cent higher. * October feeders cattle are guided by CME's feeder cattle index at 165.24 cents. CME October feeder cattle will also expire today at noon CDT (1700 GMT). * Short-covering and live cattle market gains lifted remaining feeder cattle futures. LEAN HOGS - December was at 90.275 cents per lb, down 0.125 cent, while February slipped 0.150 cent to 92.950 cents. * Lower cash hog and wholesale pork prices pressured CME hogs, traders said. * Packers have all the hogs they need going into the weekend, a trader said. And grocers are hesitant to book large pork orders as their attention turns to turkey demand for the U.S. Thanksgiving Day holiday, he said. * On Thursday, the USDA reported U.S. pork export sales last week at 23,500 tonnes, mainly to Mexico, compared with 8,600 tonnes the previous week. (Reporting by Theopolis Waters in Chicago; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)

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