Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle contracts on Wednesday posted new highs, and nearby months hit their 3.000-cent daily price limit, sparked by brisk beef demand and stronger-than-anticipated cash prices, traders said.

June settled at 130.050 cents and August 123.800 - limit up and fresh highs for both contracts. Thursday's live cattle trading limit will be expanded to 4.500 cents.

Cash cattle in the U.S. Plains traded from $145 to $147 per cwt on Wednesday, up from $134 to $136 per cwt last week, analysts and feedlot sources said.

A small number of animals at Wednesday morning's Fed Cattle Exchange, on average, brought $140.15 per cwt compared with last week's $131.68 average high.

Wednesday afternoon's average wholesale beef price jumped $3.14 per cwt to $232.59. Select cuts climbed $1.61 to $214.89, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said.

"Packers were crawling all over themselves to pay up for these cattle," said Jim Clarkson, a broker with A&A Trading Inc.

Some processors may have been caught short on inventory after selling product in advance to retailers that bought meat for spring grilling, analysts and traders said.

Cattle weights declined in recent weeks, they added, which reduced the amount of beef available to grocers.

Live cattle futures buying boosted CME feeder cattle to their second straight 13-month top and August up by its 4.500-cent limit.

May feeder cattle ended 3.675 cents per pound higher at 153.300 cents while August closed at 160.100 cents. Feeder cattle's limit will be expanded to 6.750 cents on Thursday. 

Hog Settle Higher

Fund buying, along with strong cash and wholesale pork prices, drove up CME lean hogs, traders said.

May closed 1.000 cent per pound higher at 67.950 cents, and above the 20-day moving average of 66.942 cents. Most actively traded June ended 1.400 cents higher at 75.550 cents and surpassed the 200-day moving average of 74.633 cents.

Wednesday afternoon's average cash hog price in Iowa/Minnesota was at $58.92 per cwt, $2.78 higher than on Tuesday, the USDA said.

USDA quoted Wednesday afternoon's average wholesale pork price up 42 cents per cwt from Tuesday to $76.31, with higher prices for all categories listed except ham.

Processors are compelled to offer farmers more money while charging retailers more for pork as hog supplies decline seasonally, traders said.