Cash cattle in the Souther Plains were at $127/cwt on a live basis as of Wednesday. In Nebraska, live and dressed sales were at $127.50-$128/cwt and $202/cwt, respectively. Western Cornbelt cattle trade was light, but called at $127/cwt live and $199-$202/cwt. Trade continues to be light, which is indicative of tighter supplies and, more importantly, that feeders and packers are not motivated.
In Oklahoma City, feeder steers were steady to $3/cwt lower and feeder heifers were steady to $2/cwt lower. Calves were steady to $2/cwt higher in OKC. In Mississippi auction markets feeder steers and heifers were $2-$5/cwt lower, while cull cows and bulls were steady.
Live cattle futures ended lower on Friday compared to the previous Friday’s close. Losses were larger as the contract month moved further out. The fed market continues to search for positive traction, while cold (in some parts, wintry) weather continues to dampen grilling spirits. Friday’s consumer sentiment report came in at 72.3, much lower than last month’s 78.6 and lower than the expected 78.5 number. This too is concerning for beef and cattle prices, because a sour consumer typically passes on high value middle meat cuts. Corn prices rallied and cash feeders were lower this week, which pushed feeder futures much lower. If any positive news could be found this week it was in the monthly supply and demand report that indicated previous estimates of beef supplies might have been on the high side. USDA lowered their beef production estimate for 2013 to 24.88 billion pounds, compared to 25.11 projected last month. Lower carcass weights and ever tightening supplies are the likely reason.
Corn futures finished higher this week. The sharp drop of two weeks ago looks to have been a bit of overkill. The expected corn carry-over amount from Wednesday’s supply and demand report was lower than expected which also helped push prices higher.
Wholesale boxed beef prices were lower this week. Choice finished with a weekly average of $190.60/cwt, down $0.70, and Select finished at $185.44/cwt, down $2.84.