Fed cattle were higher again this week. In the Southern Plains live cattle sold at $125-$126/cwt. In Nebraska and Colorado, live and dressed cattle traded at $125/cwt and $193/cwt, respectively. Iowa and Minnesota live cattle sold at $122/cwt and at $192-$193/cwt for dressed. In Oklahoma City, feeder steers were steady to $1/cwt higher, feeder heifers were $1-$3/cwt higher, steer calves were $4-$12/cwt higher, and heifer calves were steady to $3/cw higher. Feeder steers and heifers were $1-$2/cwt higher in Mississippi auctions this week, while slaughter cows and bulls were steady.
Live cattle futures were mixed this week, but mostly steady with last Friday’s close. Early in the week prices were attempting to move higher but never seemed to find much traction. Early signs of higher cash cattle prices helped while a stronger US dollar added pressure. Then Thursday’s supply and demand report sent cattle prices reeling. Corn ending stocks were reduced as were beef production and per capita consumption. Production continues to fall as the impact of more than two years of drought comes to light and the drop in consumption is largely a result of smaller beef supplies (i.e., less to go around). On a positive note, beef exports were unchanged from last month’s projection. Feeder prices fell hard Thursday due to the cut in corn stocks.
Corn futures were moving in a steady direction prior to Thursday’s supply and demand report. Corn yields were slightly reduced to 122.0 bushels per acre compared to September’s projection of 122.8 and most use categories were in-line with last month (exports took an 8% cut). The big change was the drop in beginning stocks, down 193 million bushels to 988, due to information revealed in the September Grain Stocks report where stocks of corn were much lower than anticipated. Still, that was known with this report but the market was once again taken by surprise (albeit a smaller one than with the stocks report). Ending corn stocks for the current marketing year were projected at 619 million bushles compared to a pre-report expectation of 645. Although this was a minor shock, a difference of 26 million bushels, in a corn market that remains on edge it was enough to send the market rocketing higher.
Wholesale boxed beef prices were mostly steady on the week. Choice finished with a weekly average of $191.15/cwt, up $0.81. Select beef averaged $177.00/cwt for the week, up $0.27.