*** There are price and production tables at this link (here). As always, if you have any comments, don’t hesitate to let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org, 662-325-7986) ***
Wow, much has happened since my last update. Cattle markets have been on fire as 2013 came to an end and thus far in 2014. For example, this week’s five-area live steer price finished the week at $139.54, up $2.06 per hundredweight, dressed steers were at $221.48, up $4.34, both records when prices are not adjusted for inflation. Futures and boxed beef prices are also higher. Live cattle sales in the Texas Panhandle and Southwest Kansas were called at $139. In Nebraska cattle transactions were, respectively, at $139-$140 and $220-$222. In the Western Cornbelt live and dresses cattle trade was a bit lower at $138-$139 and $220-222, respectively.
Oklahoma City feeder steers and steer calves were $5-$8 higher compared to three weeks ago – prior to the Christmas and New Year holiday. Feeder heifers and heifer calves were $3-$6 higher. In Mississippi auction markets, compared to the pre-holiday period, feeder steers were steady to $10 higher and steer calves were mostly $10 higher. Feeder heifers were mixed and heifer calves were mostly $10 higher. Cull cows and bulls were steady to $5 higher.
Live cattle futures continue to move higher. Following last week’s records, prices kept up the pace. Both cash prices and wholesale beef prices helped support futures as both were higher on the week. Last week was aided by a scorching equities market, which tempered a bit this week. Friday brought about two notable reports. The first, from the Labor Department, revealed a large decline in job creation for December where 74,000 jobs were added compared to an expected 197,000 (the fewest in over three years). On the other hand the unemployment rate dropped to 6.7% versus 7.0% in November (which was the same expected by analyst). Finally, the United States Department of Agriculture released their monthly World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates report later in the day. The report revealed an increase in expected beef production as more cattle have been placed into feedlots at the tail end of 2013 which should push 2014 production higher.
Corn futures rebounded a bit this week. The supply and demand report revealed less production due to lower per acre yield on top of higher use from both feed and ethanol. Also, the quarterly Grain Stocks report showed fewer bushels of corn in storage than expected across the U.S. Both of these helped push corn higher to end the week.
Wholesale beef prices ended the week much higher, helping support cash fed and futures prices. Choice beef averaged $210 for the week, up $9.17. Select averaged $206.53, up $10.20. The weekly average price for Choice is second only to late-May’s $210.47 but Friday’s single day price of $214.98 was a record.
Note: Unless otherwise noted, all cattle and beef prices are quoted in dollars per hundredweight and corn prices are quoted in dollars per bushel.