Cattle Market Notes: Week Ending Feb 28, 2014

Cash Cattle:

After a short pause cash cattle prices built some steam last week and that momentum continued this week, pushing cash prices to new record levels. The five-area fed steer prices finished the week at $150.66 and $239.98, respectively for live and dressed, up $8.66 and $9.98. On Wednesday the Southern Plains sold live cattle at $150, while Nebraska traded at $152 live and $240 dressed. Western Cornbelt prices were $150 and $240 for live and dressed.

Steer and heifer calves in Oklahoma City were steady to $2 higher. OKC feeder steers were steady to $2 lower, while feeder heifers were steady to $1 higher. In Mississippi auction markets all steers and heifers were mostly steady.

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Futures:

Cattle futures were mildly higher this week, taking cues from the cash market. With the February contract rolling off, the new nearby (April) showed the most strength, up $3.35. The futures market continues to have a wait and see approach for deferred contracts, meaning it will push the nearby contract in-line with cash, but keeps all other contract months in a holding pattern. Equity markets saw some strength on the week, with the S&P 500 hitting a new record. Analysts keep blaming the dismal last few weeks of economic data on frigid weather (cold with lots of snow and ice). The excuse seems a little to easy, but how likely would you brave the past conditions to walk through a car lot to make a purchase, or contend with dangerous road conditions to eat out, shop, or view homes for sale? I for one would probably have done the bare minimum and stayed home. [This is a perfect opportunity to shine a light on our nation’s cattlemen and cattlewomen, whose bare minimum in these conditions is far beyond so many other’s extreme maximum. Thanks! … Stepping off of soapbox.]

Corn futures were about a nickel higher this week. The week was somewhat of a roller coaster with decent gains on Tuesday, losses on Thursday and finally a reversal on Friday. Exports are the major news maker lately and this week’s data were positive for corn prices. U.S. growers are slowly pulling planters out of the shop. The month of March will end with the planting expectations report and that number will be highly anticipated as corn has tried to give up some acres to both soybeans and cotton this winter.

Beef:

While boxed beef has not regained all of it’s recent losses like cash cattle prices have, they have managed to make up some ground. Choice boxed beef finished with a weekly average of $219.60, up $6.62. Select averaged $217.09, up $6.40.

Note: all cattle and beef prices are quoted in dollars per hundredweight and corn prices are quoted in dollars per bushel, unless stated otherwise.