Signs in recent days suggest the summer lows are finally in - more than a month into autumn. CME cattle futures traded higher for three consecutive days and trended higher for a fourth, but profit taking in the last hour on Tuesday caused most contracts to settle modestly lower.
But the mood in cattle country is decidedly different this week. Last week's 5-area weekly weighted cattle price was $99.24, about $1 higher than the 6-year lows established the prior week. The rally in the futures markets, coupled with ideas packers will need more cattle this week, have feedyards pricing their show lists at $105.
USDA's weekly National Feeder & Stocker Cattle summary on Friday called prices $3 to $4 lower on the week, but noted some auctions reported slightly higher prices. It's been more than a month since the National Feeder & Stocker Cattle summary reported a higher trend for the week, but that may soon change as this week's early trading indicates a positive direction.
At Joplin Regional Stockyards on Monday, steer calves were called $2 to $6 higher, and heifer calves and yearling steers were reported $4 to $8 higher. "Demand moderate to good, supply moderate," was the overall description. "Several strings of true yearlings in the offering."
At the Oklahoma National Stockyards in Oklahoma City on Monday, the trend was similar. "Feeder steers and heifers steady to $5 higher.Steer and heifer calves steady to $5 higher. Demand good and improved for all classes."
On Tuesday at the Amarillo, Texas, Livestock Auction, the report noted that not enough comparable sales of feeder steers or heifers were available for an adequate market test. "However, a much higher undertone was noted for stockers and yearlings. Trade was fairly active on good demand."
Cattlemen may continue to hold some skepticism that the market has actually turned in the right direction as they've seen this act before. Still, they've got to like how the week has started.