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LIVESTOCK-U.S. cattle futures drift lower on beef demand worries

CHICAGO, July 14 (Reuters) - Live cattle futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) fell on Tuesday for a second straight session on weak wholesale beef prices and worries about consumer demand, given uncertainty about the health of the U.S. economy, traders said.

CME August live cattle futures settled down 0.850 cent at 98.800 cents per pound and October fell 1.100 cents to finish at 103.100 cents.

“There is this persistent concern about the economy that is playing into these markets,” said Altin Kalo, agricultural economist for Steiner Consulting. Noting that the CME October and December contracts fell the hardest on Tuesday, Kalo added, “That is somewhat telling that the market is concerned about demand going into the fall.”

Cash cattle traded at $95 per cwt in Texas and Kansas, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said, generally steady with last week and a disappointment to traders expecting higher prices this week.

“Some of the cash markets are not that great,” Kalo said.

Prices for choice cuts of boxed beef on Tuesday afternoon fell $2.34 to $200.92 per cwt and select cuts fell $1.03 to $190.85 per cwt, according to the USDA.

Hog futures closed lower, retreating after Monday’s rally. A see-saw pattern has persisted this month as traders vacillate between ample supplies of hogs, and signs of improving domestic and export demand for pork.

“There is not a whole lot of fundamental support for the hog market, at least in the near term,” Kalo said.

CME August lean hog futures settled down 1.350 cents at 49.925 cents per pound.

The U.S. pork cutout, an indication of wholesale prices, fell $1.28 on Tuesday afternoon, to $66.24 per cwt. (Reporting by Julie Ingwersen; Editing by Tom Brown)

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