Following last week’s new records, cash fed cattle price pulled back just a bit this week. The five-area live and dressed price ended Friday at $149.13 and $238.29, respectively down $1.51 and $1.69. All regions except Nebraska did not have enough cash negotiated sales to determine a market trend. In Nebraska, live and dressed sales were at $150 and $237-$240.
Steers and heifers in Oklahoma City were higher in, yet another, winter weather limited sale. In Mississippi auction markets steers were about $5 higher and heifers were mixed. Cull cows and bulls were $3-$5 higher.
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Cattle futures were mostly higher (excluding the nearest April contract). Prices were a bit wild mid-week as they jumped higher on Tuesday before turning sharply lower the next day. The uneasiness in Ukraine and Russia put corn prices on edge, which spilled over into cattle futures. Feeder cattle futures were higher, especially as the contract month moved out. Also in the news this week was the jobs report on Friday. The U.S. added 175,000 jobs in February, higher than the expectation of 149,000, but the unemployment rate rose 0.1% to 6.7%. The extreme weather continues to be an issue as the unemployment survey indicated more respondents had to work part-time. Also, the length of the workweek was the lowest since January 2011. The report helped equity markets remain at record levels, despite the troubles in Eastern Europe.
Corn futures moved about $0.20 higher this week. The issues in Ukraine, a major corn and wheat exporter – typically in the top five for corn exports and around the number 5 spot for wheat, led to higher prices for most of the week.
Boxed beef rallied in the wake of higher fed prices, reminiscent of the first few weeks of January this year. Choice boxed beef finished with a weekly average of $233.40, up $13.80. Select averaged $231.07, up $13.98.
Note: all cattle and beef prices are quoted in dollars per hundredweight and corn prices are quoted in dollars per bushel, unless stated otherwise.