Yet another week of slow fed cattle trade was seen this week. Current prices appear to have both sides now waiting on the other to budge. In Texas, live cattle traded at $125/cwt late in the week. In Nebraska, live cattle sold between $124-$125/cwt. The five area region average price for live and dressed cattle on Friday was $124.77/cwt and $197.71/cwt, down $1.74 and $5.14, respectively.
Feeder steers and heifers were $1-$3/cwt lower in Oklahoma City, while calves were $3-$6/cwt lower in a light test. In Mississippi auction markets feeder steers and heifers were $5-$10/cwt lower. Cull cows were $2-$3/cwt lower and bulls were steady.
Live cattle futures managed to move into positive territory this week. Following last Friday’s large drop, Monday hovered around those same levels for most contracts. Tuesday brought about more negative movement as continued concerns about beef consumption ruled the day. A few things were in play Wednesday to help create a turnaround. First, positioning ahead of Friday’s Cattle on Feed report brought about some buying. Second, thoughts that market had moved too low also added some buying power. Weakness in beef and cash fed prices lef the market steady to close the week. Feeder futures were lower this week as live cattle futures held onto small gains versus last week, corn was higher, and cash feeder markets were lower in many locations throughout the week. The Cattle on Feed report was released Friday (March 22) and revealed fewer cattle than expected were placed and, as a result, fewer were on feed March 1. For more on the report visit here.
Corn futures were higher again this week. Ethanol production appears to be picking up from near non-existent levels (some sarcasim is laced in that comment, but belnding has been slow during much of 2013). Concerns of an ‘over-sold’ market also played into the gains this week, but so much will depend on next week’s Prospective Plantings report (to be released Thursday, March 28). Come back on Thursday for a quick recap of the report or catch the podcast (link: iTunes or via Miss. State)
Wholesale boxed beef prices slid this week and the spread between Choice and Select further narrowed. Choice carcasses averaged $193.57/cwt, down $3.18. Select carcasses averaged $193.18/cwt, down $2.09. This leaves the spread at 39 cents per hundredweight!