Cash fed cattle prices drifted $2 to $3 lower for the week, leaving cattlemen facing the reality the spring highs may have been posted. Cash prices in the south were $125 to $126, with prices in the north at $126 to $127. Cattle on a dressed basis sold at $206.
Feeder cattle and calves were called steady to $5 higher at auctions across the nation by AMS reporters.
Despite this week’s retreat, some feeders believe cash prices could still make a run at a new high in April due to the declining carcass weights. Analysts see signals in the futures market that will prevent such a rally. Specifically, after an almost year-long uptrend in the weekly charts, CME live cattle futures topped last week and have begun the next leg of what some see as a long-term bear market.
While the market’s fundamentals remain strong – good consumer demand, manageable supplies – most market watchers see the cash fed cattle market gradually working lower toward a trading range set during the first weeks of the year. Showlists are increasing and wholesale beef prices are softer. Packer margins remain solidly profitable, which should continue to make them aggressive buyers.
Choice beef cutout prices declined $1.65 for the week, closing Friday at $227.44. Select beef closed at $219.52, up $0.88 from last Friday.