Packers Dig In Their Heels, Feeder Cattle Uneven

Every cowboy from Ames to Amarillo was convinced the cattle market is headed higher, but packers held out on raising bids until late Friday.
Every cowboy from Ames to Amarillo was convinced the cattle market is headed higher, but packers held out on raising bids until late Friday.
(University of Nebraska)

Happy hour was well underway Friday when packers threw in the towel and raised their bids. Every cowboy from Ames to Amarillo was convinced the cattle market was headed higher, but packers dug in their heels and refused offers of cattle priced $2 to $4 over last week. But as another cold winter night settled over the High Plains, showlists had been marked sold at prices $1 higher in the South, and $1 to $5 higher on a dressed basis in the North.

Trade was at a standoff Friday afternoon, with a light trade Friday morning at $124.55, about half-a-dollar higher. Dressed sales in Nebraska were reported at $200, or $2 per cwt. higher than last week. Market reporting services all said the market tone was higher, but few active live trades to support those ideas. Futures markets, however, suggested those prices were too cheap. February Live cattle closed Friday at $127.37, more than $1 higher.

At the close of business late Friday, the bulk of sales in the South occurred at $125, with a few at $126. Cattle on a dressed basis sold in the North at $200, with tops up to $204.

Despite packer resistance, the market has been on an upswing. Since last summer’s low of $107, cash fed cattle prices have been steady or higher in 21 of 23 weeks.

At auction, feeder steers and heifers sold uneven, from steady to $2 lower in the North Central, to steady to $4 higher in the Southeast and South Central. Some southern auctions reported spot sales as much as $10 per cwt. higher on good grazing cattle.

Choice boxed beef cutout values were $1.09 per cwt. higher for the week at $215.35. Select closed Friday at $211.17 per cwt., down $1.98 for the week. The Choice-Select spread was $4.18.

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