Cash fed cattle were mostly steady this week. Fed cattle trade in Texas was at $124.50/cwt. In Kansas, live cattle traded around $124-$124.50/cwt. Live and dressed cattle in Nebraska sold at $124/cwt and $196-$198/cwt, respectively. InIowa/Minnesota, live sales were from $125-$126.50/cwt and dressed sales were $196-$198/cwt. In Oklahoma City, feeder steers and heifers were steady to $2/cwt higher, steer calves were steady to $2/cwt lower, and heifer calves were steady to $1/cwt lower. Feeder steers were $1-$3/cwt lower and heifers were steady in Mississippi auctions this week. Slaughter cows and bulls were steady.
Live cattle futures were higher this week shaking off some early week bearishness. On Monday, it was reported that Russia would ban imports of U.S. beef and pork that been provided Ractopamine (wanting all imports tested). While Russia represents a small market for U.S. beef, 6.6% of exports landed in Russia from January through September 2012, it has been a area of recent growth. The same day, it was reported that Japan was shutting off all imparts of Brazilian beef due to a case of BSE. Of Japan’s imports, Brazil represents just 0.3%, so the news was not particularly market moving, but further bans for the largest beef exporter could be newsworthy. And all of that was just Monday! The remainder of the week was less exciting. Tuesday saw markets maintain their strength despite the negative news from the previous day. Tightening supplies and steady consumer demand helped overcome the bears. Some off-and-on profit taking was seen in the days that followed.
Corn futures were slightly lower this week. Tuesday brought about the final supply and demand report of the calendar year (even though the marketing year runs through July). No changes were made for corn as ending stocks are still projected at 647 million bushels. Pre-report expectations looked for ending stocks to be higher at 663, so it would suggest a spark for higher prices. One the other hand, wheat stocks were much higher than expected and the potential for feeders to incorporate more wheat into rations was noted. This negated any potential gains on the day and the market closed down a few cents. The remainder of the week continued to move lower until Friday when prices surged. Exports continue to be sluggish but a strong cash market on Friday led to the rally.
Wholesale boxed beef prices were mostly steady as the weekly average price for Choice and Select was up a mere $0.57/cwt and $0.38/cwt, respectively. Choice finished with a weekly average of $195.04/cwt and Select finished at $174.79. This leaves the Choice-to-Select spread at a relatively high level of $20.25/cwt. The spread is typically high this time of year as demand for Choice and Prime beef are high, but the difference between Choice and Select the past few weeks has been above normal levels.