Cattle Market Notes: Week Ending Feb. 20, 2015

Cash Cattle:

Cash fed cattle were mostly steady once again this week. The five-area fed steer price ended the week at $159.99, live, and $256.36, dressed; respectively, down $0.50 and up $1.21. Cash trades in Kanas were reported at $160 for live cattle. In Nebraska, dressed sales were mostly $253-$258 during the week, while live sales came in at $159-$160. Limited trade in the Western Cornbelt was reported with prices at $160 and $253-$256, respectively, for live and dressed.

Feeder steers in Mississippi auction markets were $5-$10 lower and heifers were mostly $5 lower. In Oklahoma City, feeder steers were steady to $4 higher, while feeder heifers were steady. Heifer calves sold $5-$15 higher.

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Futures:

Feeder and live cattle futures contracts were mostly steady throughout the week until Friday. Cash markets appeared to be holding the line and giving futures participants reason to do the same. Boxed beef prices added support as they moved slightly higher during the week. Friday brought about more bearish sentiment with regard to beef demand as the U.S. economy remains sluggish, while pork and chicken supplies look to be competitive. Friday afternoon USDA released their monthly inventory of cattle in feedlots. The report revealed 10.711 million head of cattle are in feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 head or more. This was even with one year ago and on par with the no-change that was expected. Cattle placed into these feedlots throughout January totaled 1.787 million head, down 11%, which was slightly higher than the expected 14% decline. Cattle sold during January totaled 1.625 million head, down 9% and on par with pre-report expectations. (More on the report will be available soon.)

Corn futures ended the week lower. Most contracts stayed within a five cent per bushel range throughout the week.

Beef:

Wholesale boxed beef prices were higher, and moved higher throughout the week. Choice boxes averaged $239.47, up $0.78. Select boxes ended the week at an average of $235.32, up $1.05.

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