Cash cattle remain in the holding pattern they’ve been in for a number of weeks. The five-area live and dressed steer price finished the week at $131.89 and $209.10, respectively down $0.77 and up $0.39. Live cattle sales in the Texas Panhandle and Southwest Kansas was called at $132 on Thursday. In Nebraska, live and dressed cattle, respectively, sold at $131-$133 and $208-$209. In the Western Cornbelt live cattle trade was reported at $132 and dressed cattle sold at $209.Compared to two weeks ago in Oklahoma City feeder steers and heifers were weaker and calves were $2-$4 lower. In Mississippi auction markets this week feeders were mixed compared to two weeks ago with steers falling about $1 while feeder heifers were steady to $2 higher. Calves were $2 lower, cull cows were $1 higher, and bulls were $2 higher.
Live cattle futures were moved lower this week, taking a big hit on Thursday. Prices started the week in a sideways pattern, for most contracts, before being saddled with undesirable news. Cash bids came in lower than expected Thursday, which was followed by a decline in wholesale beef prices. Similar events sent feeder futures falling late in the week. On Friday, the Labor Department reported that 203,000 jobs were added during November, better than the 180,000 that were expected, and the unemployment rate declined to 7.0% (its lowest since November 2008) compared to expectations of 7.2%. This could help cattle prices from continuing to fall as we head further into the very important Christmas holiday season.
Corn prices rallied to start the week. Sales have been limited across the U.S. at the producer level indicating an interest to wait out for better prices down the road and potentially limiting “current” supplies. Exports were unimpressive and continued talks that China is declining inshipments pressured the market late in the week.
Wholesale beef prices were steady through mid-week and then slid lower to close the week out. Choice beef averaged $202.65, up $0.61. Select averaged $189.61, up $0.12.
Note: Unless otherwise noted, all cattle and beef prices are quoted in dollars per hundredweight and corn prices are quoted in dollars per bushel.