Cattle Market Notes: Week Ending Apr 24, 2015

Cash Cattle:

Cash traded fed cattle finished the week lower. The five-area fed steer price ended the week at $158.91 for live sales, and $252.14 for dressed; respectively, down $3.80 and $3.82. Cash trades in the Southern Plains (TX & KS) were reported at $158 live on Wednesday. Nebraska trades ranged from $253 early to $260 later in the week, dressed, while live sales came in at $160-$160.50 on Thursday. Western Cornbelt trade was $158-$160, live, and $250-$260, dressed, rising as the week progressed.

Feeder cattle were lower and calf prices were mostly steady this week. In Mississippi auction markets, feeder steers were $5-$15 lower and steer calves were $7 to $20 lower. Heifers in Mississippi were steady to $15 lower. Oklahoma City feeder steers and heifers sold steady to $4 lower, while calves were steady.

[ … For Livestock Prices and Production data and trends CLICK HERE … ]

Futures:

Cattle futures ended the week higher by the end of the week, when compared to last Friday’s close. The week started in a dismal way as the steep losses from last Friday carried into the early week trade. Reports of strong international beef trade (coupled with a weaker U.S. dollar) helped push prices higher. Most notably, though, continued reports of Avian Influenza H5N2 (bird flu) hit the headlines early in the week as outbreaks in Iowa and Minnesota were reported. This has a two fold gain for beef markets. Consumer concerns of food safety could shift purchases to beef and the potential supply shock may increase broiler prices longer term. … Look for this exuberance to be squashed as markets open Monday. Friday afternoon (after futures markets closed) the USDA, NASS released their monthly Cattle on Feed report. The report was quite bearish as feedlot placements during March soared, much higher than anyone anticipated. This left feedlot inventories higher as well. The bulk of the gains in feeder placement stemmed from heavy weight placements, so look for near term live cattle futures to be most pressured, but all cattle futures will likely suffer. For more on the report, CLICK HERE.

Corn futures were lower this week. Early week support was noticed following the release of USDA’s weekly Crop Progress report. Southeastern states are lagging in getting the crop planted (most notably Missouri and Kentucky — if you want to consider MO a “southeastern state”!). Northern and Eastern Cornbelt states are still in decent shape with planting progress. Prices dropped on Thursday and Friday with many grain market analysts attributing the drop to bird flu’s potential to reduce feed demand.

Beef:

Wholesale boxed beef prices were mostly steady but the spread between Choice and Select carcasses did push a tad higher. Choice boxes averaged $259.20, up $0.18. Select boxes ended the week with an average of $249.99, down $0.36.

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