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LIVESTOCK-Fund buying boosts U.S. hog futures

* Cash sentiment underpins CME live cattle
    * Feeders follow firm live cattle market

    By Theopolis Waters
    CHICAGO, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Chicago Mercantile Exchange hog
futures climbed Thursday, driven by fund buying and
short-covering on the eve of the last trading day of the month,
traders and analysts said.
    Investors also adjusted positions ahead of the  U.S. Sept. 2
Labor Day holiday, traders said.
    CME hogs gained almost 1.4 percent, their biggest
one-day percentage increase since 2.1 percent on July 23.
    October futures' discount to CME's hog index, which was at
95.14 cents, generated more buying interest.
October hogs finished 1.275 cents higher at 87.325 cents per lb while December settled 1.150 cents higher at 84.300 cents. Hog futures gained traction despite ambivalence about cash hog and wholesale pork prices in the near term. "The discount is being cut down to size significantly, which is going to make that moot since we are talking about the price of hogs in October, not late August," independent livestock futures trader Dan Norcini said. The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday morning quoted the average hog price in the western Midwest up 94 cents per hundredweight (cwt) at $88.84 cents, but it quoted prices $1.41 lower at $86.39 in the eastern Midwest region. Thursday morning's government data showed the wholesale pork price, or cutout, at $96.97 per cwt, up 77 cents from Tuesday. The cutout was largely driven by the $5.55 jump in ham prices. Packers are pressuring cash hog bids amid a seasonal bump in supplies. Processors have all the hogs they need before shutting down plants for Monday's holiday. And supermarkets are reluctant to book big orders of pork until they determine how product moved over the three-day holiday weekend, the last grilling holiday of the summer. CASH IDEAS SUPPORT LIVE CATTLE
Short-covering and anticipation of cash trading at a minimum of steady with last week underpinned CME live cattle, analysts and traders said. Cash cattle bids in Texas and Kansas inched up to $122 per cwt from $121 against $125 and higher asking prices, feedlot sources said. Last week, cash cattle traded mostly $123 per cwt in Texas and Kansas, and $125 in Nebraska. Packers who raised cash bids in the southern Plains suggested they may need cattle, even though processors are buying supplies for the holiday-shortened week. Packers will be careful about how much they spend for cattle given more of them are available for sale this week and beef appeared to have waned. USDA Thursday morning reported the wholesale choice beef price, or cutout, at $195.88 per cwt, down 40 cents from Wednesday. Select cuts dropped 98 cents to $183.42. Spot August live cattle, which will expire on Aug. 30, ended up 0.250 cent to 123.550 cents per lb. Most-actively traded October closed up 0.050 cent to 126.975 cents. CME feeder cattle followed the firm live cattle market. Spot August feeders expired from trading at noon CDT (1700 GMT), settling up 0.325 cents per lb at 155.050 cents. That was nearly in line with CME's feeder cattle index at 154.76 cents. September, the new lead month, finished 0.300 cent
higher at 156.225 cents and October at 158.000 cents, 0.375 cent higher. (editing by Jim Marshall)

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