Those fed cattle that actually traded hands were mostly steady once again this week, however very little trade developed. The five-area fed steer price ended the week at $157.87, live, and $250.00, dressed; respectively, up $1.18 and down $1.37. There was too little cash trades in state/regional markets to establish more local price levels.
Steers in Mississippi auction markets were steady to lower with very light (300-400 pounds) being down about $15 and middle weight (500-650) being down about $7. Four weight steers were up $2. Heifers in Mississippi were higher, with light weights up about $5 and heavy weight heifers up almost $20. Similar to fed trade, Oklahoma City experienced very limited sales this week as a result of winter weather. Total receipts in OKC registered 1,316 compared to 4,121 last week and 2,294 the previous year.
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Feeder futures were much stronger this week and live cattle futures contracts were mildly higher.After stalling a bit on Monday, both live and feeder markets surged on Tuesday and remained strong the rest of the week. Limited trade across some regions as a result of winter weather held feeders at bay early. However, outside of these areas, prices were higher as Spring and Summer grazers began to stock-up. On the live cattle front, light cash trade until Friday kept a lid on futures, but high wholesale beef prices were encouraging. Then, on Friday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics announced yet another strong month for job growth, a net gain of 295,000 jobs in February, while a separate survey revealed that the U.S unemployment rate dropped 0.2 percentage points to 5.5%. The job growth was well above the average expectation of +235,000 and unemployment was expected to be 5.6%. Both provide support for beef demand.
Corn futures slid mildly lower and soybean prices were much lower. Prices for these two crops are under the microscope as farmers nail down their planting decisions. Soybeans have been losing ground, figuratively, as its price has slid more when compared to corn price the past few weeks.
Wholesale boxed beef prices were higher. Choice boxes averaged $248.91, up $3.63. Select boxes ended the week at an average of $245.79, up $2.30.
Note: all cattle and beef prices are quoted in dollars per hundredweight and corn prices are quoted in dollars per bushel, unless stated otherwise.