LIVESTOCK-Lower cash prices drag down US live cattle futures

* CME live cattle prices drag despite new beef price record
    * Feeders track lower cattle futures, firm corn
    * Weaker cash hog, pork values drop hog futures

    By Theopolis Waters
    CHICAGO, May 23 (Reuters) - Chicago Mercantile Exchange live
cattle futures sagged on Thursday as lower cash cattle prices
weighed, analysts and traders said.
    So far this week, cash cattle in Texas and Kansas traded at
$124 per hundredweight, down $1 from a week ago, said feedlot
    Packers bought cattle for next week's slaughter that will be
shortened by one-day due to the May 25 to May 27 U.S. Memorial
Day holiday. CME live cattle lost ground despite wholesale beef prices eking out a new record high. The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday morning quoted the wholesale price of choice beef, or cutout, up 15 cents to $211.35 per cwt, eclipsing the previous high of $211.20 set Wednesday afternoon. "Bear traders are in full control of the market," said Vetterkind Cattle Brokerage president Troy Vetterkind. "I don't think we've put in our summer low in the futures. Until we get down to probably 116.000 to 117.000 cents area, the futures are just going to keep going lower," he said. June cattle closed at 119.125 cents, 0.875 cent per lb lower and August ended down 1.025 cents at 118.200 cents. Feeder cattle futures fell after spot-May's expiration at noon CDT (1700 GMT) exposed remaining futures' steep premiums to CME's feeder cattle index at 131.26 cents. And lower CME live cattle and firmer corn prices pulled down other feeder cattle contracts. Spot May settled unchanged at 131.625 cents per lb. August, the new lead contract, settled at 142.650 cents, down 1.675 cents and September finished down 1.750 cents to 144.950 cents. HOGS DROP WITH CASH Profit taking, lower cash hog prices and weak wholesale pork values undercut CME hogs, analysts and traders said.
"It was a profit-taking day after the market got ahead of itself after rallying sharply on Wednesday," said R.J. O'Brien hog futures trader Tom Cawthorne. The average hog price on Thursday morning in the most-watched Iowa/Minnesota market was $1.56 per hundredweight lower from Wednesday at $89.01, according to USDA data. USDA's Thursday morning mandatory wholesale pork price data, or cutout, calculated on a plant-delivered basis was $93.76 per hundredweight, down 34 cents from Wednesday. Packers are not buying hogs aggressively with plants slated to be closed for Monday's U.S. Memorial Day holiday and retailers likely booked enough fresh pork to feature during the holiday. Some investors are concerned that potentially inclement weather in parts of the country could dampen grilling over the three-day holiday weekend. CME June hogs closed down 0.350 cent to 94.200 cents and July ended at 93.025 cents, or 0.400 cent lower. (Reporting by Theopolis Waters; Editing by Theodore d'Afflisio)

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