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LIVESTOCK-CME hogs end down daily limit, retreating from last week's top

Julie Ingwersen

CHICAGO, April 9 (Reuters) - Most months of Chicago Mercantile Exchange lean hog futures closed down the daily 3-cent trading limit on Tuesday on softening cash markets and profit-taking following contract highs set last week, analysts said.

"The cash market has slowed down. It was down a little yesterday and the carcass values were weaker this morning," said Doug Houghton, analyst with Brock Associates Inc.

"The pork market has been very strong, but you've got the highest prices in a while; you may be getting some resistance," Houghton said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture pegged average cash hog prices in the top Iowa and southern Minnesota market at $75.97 per cwt, down 38 cents from the prior day's weighted average.

Most-active CME June lean hog futures settled down the daily 3-cent limit to close at 95.150 cents per pound. The contract rode a month-long surge to peak at a contract high on Friday of 99.825 cents.

"The fact that (the June contract) closed below Friday's low is not favorable from a technical standpoint. Everything is looking pretty toppy," Houghton said.

The CME Group said daily limits in lean hog futures would be widened to 4.5 cents a pound for Wednesday's trading session.

Expectations of increased U.S. pork exports to China continued to underpin the market as China struggles to contain the spread of African swine fever in its hog herd.

CME live cattle futures ended mostly lower as traders awaited direction from cash markets and monitored a major storm that is forecast to bring blizzard conditions Wednesday and Thursday to much of South Dakota and Nebraska.

Feedlots in Nebraska have been struggling with muddy conditions for months.

"The (cattle futures) market was just treading water today," Houghton said.

April live cattle futures finished up 0.100 cent at 125.900 cents per pound while the actively traded June contract fell 0.225 cent at 120.350 cents.

April feeder cattle futures settled down 0.575 cent at 146.150 cents per pound while May feeders fell 0.400 cent at 150.175. (Reporting by Julie Ingwersen Editing by Chris Reese)