Cash market volumes were light through mid-afternoon Friday. The five-area cash price ended the week fairly steady with live cattle trading at $119.52 on a live basis, down $0.08 from last week, while dressed sales averaged $190.18, down $1.33. In the Southern Plains, live cattle sold steady at $119. All other regions were not reported due to limited sales.
In Oklahoma City, feeder steers were $2-$4 higher, steer calves were $4-$8 higher, feeder heifers were steady to $3 higher, and heifer calves were $3-$6 higher. In Mississippi auction markets feeder steers were steady to slightly lower, steer calves were steady to $10 higher, feeder heifers were steady to $5 higher, and heifer calves were $3-$8 higher. Slaughter cows in Mississippi sold $1-$3 higher while and bulls were steady to slightly lower.
Live cattle futures were lower again this week with the remaining three contracts left for 2013 dropping more than those expiring in 2014. Weekly losses were moderate, though, with the October contract losing the most, down $1.30 from last Friday’s close. Sluggish cash cattle and beef prices continue to weigh on the fed market. Outside markets were fed a dose of both good and less than good news this week. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported jobs grew by 162,000 in July, lower than expected, but the unemployment rate declined to 7.4%. On the bright side, U.S. gross domestic product grew 1.7% year-over-year in the second quarter of 2013, higher than expected (however, the first quarter number was revised lower). Probably the best news of the week was that consumer spending rose 1.8% in the second quarter. Most feeder cattle futures contracts were higher this week (excluding the January and March 2014 contracts). Declining corn prices played the largest role, but stronger cash markets added support.
Corn futures were lower again this week. Favorable weather and expectations of a record crop keep adding pressure to the corn market.
Wholesale boxed beef prices moved mildly lower (i.e., the slide appears to be slowing). Choice carcasses finished the week $0.73 lower at $186.68. Select’s slide was less severe finishing at $181.59, down $0.87. The spread between Choice and Select widened just a bit this week for the first time in seven weeks and now sits at $5.08.
Note: Unless noted otherwise, all prices quoted are dollars per hundredweight for cattle and beef and dollars per bushel for corn.