Cash fed cattle were higher this week by about $1/cwt. Texas and Kansas live prices were called at $122/cwt on Wednesday. In Nebraska, live and dressed prices were called at $123-$124/cwt and $195-$196/cwt, respectively. Oklahoma City feeder steers and heifers were steady to $2/cwt higher than two weeks ago. Calves in OKC were steady. In Mississippi markets, steers were steady and heifers were $1-$5/cwt higher. Cows were $1-$3/cwt lower and bulls were steady.
Cattle futures improved most of the week but the jump was substantial on Thursday and Friday. Cash has been at a premium compared to the nearby June live cattle contract as traders have held on to reservations about beef demand and other economic variables. Although skepticism remains cash prices continue to hold up forcing the hand of the futures market. The strong close to the week was a result of improved exports and optimism in U.S. equity markets provided the spark.
Corn futures were on a rollar-coaster early in the week as weather concerns sparked a rally on Monday, which was countered with a downward turn on Tuesday. Selling the Monday rally and expectations of rain across the Corn Belt took place on Tuesday. Wednesday through Friday brought about higher prices as the weather conditions in other regions of the globe took center stage, along with a modestly bullish export report.
Wholesale beef prices were mixed this week as Choice beef held mostly steady and Select moved lower. Choice wholesale beef finished with a weekly average of $197.10/cwt, up $0.27. Select ended at $184.47/cwt, down $2.46. This puts the Choice-to-Select spread at $12.63/cwt, the highest of 2012. The rising spread is not uncommon at this point in the year as Choice is typically higher due to the summer “grilling season”.