Fed cattle cash prices ended the week just shy of the previous week’s record. The five-area fed steer price came in Friday at $151.43 for live sales, down $0.83, while dressed steers did not have enough sales to report a price (dressed heifers were at $238, down $4.22). Similarly, statewide markets did not record enough cash trade by mid-Friday for a trend to be called.
Feeder steers and heifers in Oklahoma City were $1-$3 higher, while stockers and calves were steady. In Mississippi auction markets, feeder steers were $2 higher, calves and stockers were $5 lower, and feeder heifers were $2-$5 lower. Cull cows were $4 lower while bulls were steady.
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Cattle futures ended the week lower. Monday’s acreage report took the wind out of the cattle market’s sails as corn prices topped $5 for the first time since mid-September for the current suite of contracts. A slide in boxed beef throughout the week led to even more weakness in cattle futures with Friday’s slide of $3.21 doing the most damage. The hit to beef prices on Friday were coupled with pressure from an equity market decline that keeps fears of a beef demand dip hovering above. Friday’s jobs report showed 192,000 jobs created in March, slightly smaller than the 200,000 expected. However, January and February employment numbers were raised by a total of 37,000 showing – (a) these reports quite volatile in the short-term, and (b) the brutal winter stung less than originally estimated. The unemployment rate, taken from a separate survey, came in at 6.7%, the same as February and higher than the 6.6% expectation.
Corn futures were up a strong 10 to 20 cents per bushel this week. Monday’s intended acreage report revealed that 91.691 million acres were planned for corn in the U.S., a 3.674 million acre decline from last year and more than 1 million lower than expectations. While the final acreage number might differ from this preliminary one, the indication of fewer acres put the market on edge. Prices on Monday were drifting lower in advance of the report but then surged following the report. They then held steady the remainder of the week showing confidence in USDA’s forecast.
Wholesale beef was lower again this week, showing the largest decline on Friday (down $3.21 and $4.04 for Choice and Select). Choice boxed beef averaged $232.13 for the week, down $7.44. Select averaged $222.08, down $10.37.
Note: all cattle and beef prices are quoted in dollars per hundredweight and corn prices are quoted in dollars per bushel, unless stated otherwise.