Cattle Steady To Higher, Trade Lackluster
Bullish attitudes may prevail in the cattle markets, but cash sales remain disappointing for cattle feeders. A moderate volume of negotiated cattle traded mostly at $114, with a few in the North at $115.50 for the week, steady to $2 higher. Dressed sales in the North were mostly at $180, with a few up to $182 per cwt., $2 higher. Packers have been filling their cattle inventory with committed cattle and have not been aggressive in buying cash cattle. Feedyard asking prices are at $116.
Cattle feeders continue to see large fed cattle supplies on the front-end and large beef production. Packer margins remain well over $300 per head, and if feeders are in the process of taking some market leverage away from the packer it is not evident this week.
The coldest weather of the season produced cattle weigh-ups as much as 50 pounds light, and costs of gain rising. That trend will increase next week with forecasts of a major winter storm moving across Texas and Oklahoma on Sunday through Monday – snow and record-setting cold temperatures will be present from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico.
Weather forecasts sent cattle futures sharply higher on Friday. April live cattle rose $2.05 to $125.175 and June gained $1.775 to $121.30. Both contracts hit new contract highs this week. March feeder cattle were up $1.70 to $140.85. The rally to close the week produced a high-range weekly settlement and leaves the market in a good technical position to continue to rally next week.
Friday’s Choice boxed beef cutout closed at $232.37 per cwt., down $2.21 from the previous Friday. Select boxed beef closed at $220.93 per cwt., up $0.14 per cwt. from the previous week.
Weekly cattle slaughter was estimated at 611,000 head compared to 621,342 head last year. Total slaughter year-to-date was 3.945 million head, 4.5% below last year.
Feeder cattle were called mixed from $5 lower to $1 higher.