Cash prices moved lower throughout the week. In Texas and Kansas, prices were at $125/cwt on Wednesday but moved lower to $123/cwt on Friday in Kansas. Live cattle in Nebraske were called at $123-$125/cwt and dressed prices were much lower compared to last week at $198/cwt. The five-area price was also lower at $124.20/cwt versus $126.36 last week.
Feeder steers and heifers were $2-$5/cwt lower in Oklahoma City, while calves were called steady. In Mississippi auction markets feeder steers and heifers were mixed. Cull cows sold $1-$2/cwt lower and bulls were called steady.
Live cattle futures finished the week much lower. Lower cash prices, concerns related to demand, and higher corn all played into the weakness. While the new tax laws have been in the books since January 1, this past week marked the first payday for many Americans and these individuals most likely had a case of ‘sticker shock’. The flu epidemic is also believed to be impacting beef demand by lowering foot traffic in retuarants and diminshing any robust appetites. Finally, the news of a slaughter facility in Texas suspending operations (a Cargill plant) was seen as a negative since the reasons stated were razor thin margins in the face of tight supplies. The high corn prices along with weakness in the live cattle pits pushed feeder cattle lower.
Corn futures were higher again this week. Early in the week contracts were still on the euphoria of last week’s USDA reports. A stronger than expected export report on Thursday was seen as a positive (although the market was down on the day) and could be a turn in what has been rather weak exports for the past six weeks.
Wholesale boxed beef prices were once again mixed this week with Select gaining another $2.32/cwt on Choice and thus narrowed the spread further. Choice finished with a weekly average of $192.68/cwt, down $1.13, and Select finished at $184.57, up $1.19.