Cattle Quick Thoughts
The past two weeks have seen sizable increases in boxed beef prices. Average choice box price is up nearly $17 over the week ending February 17th. Likewise, we have seen increases in fed cattle cash prices. Live steers are up about $6 while dressed steers are up $12 over the past two weeks. Both of these indicate that finished cattle might be a little hard to find right now. However, live cattle futures prices suggest these prices are unlikely to maintain into the Spring and Summer months. The June Live Cattle contract is currently $10 lower than the April contract. There has been a pretty significant divide between these two contracts for the past few months (average of $9.83 since January 1). Much of this has to do with the expectation of more slaughter-ready cattle to be marketed in early Spring and lasting throughout the summer. Higher placements into feedlots beginning in November 2016 suggest that there will be a larger number of finished cattle over the next few months which is likely to lead to lower live cattle prices.
Cash traded fed cattle continued to climb this week – up 45 cents to an average of $124.83 for live sales while dressed steers were up $4.07 to an average of $199.99 this week. Trade volume was just over 134,000 head, up from 119,000 head last week.
Mississippi feeder steers weighing 450-500 pounds were up $7.50 to $151 while 750-800 pound steers were up $1.50 to $120. Feeder prices in Oklahoma City for 500-550 pound steers were down $4.07 to $156.63 while OKC 750-800 pound steers dropped $3.32 from last week to $125.63.
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Futures prices finished the week higher across the board. April live cattle were up 93 cents over last week to $116.03 while June live cattle were up $1.83 cents to $106.78. March feeder cattle were up $1.82 from last Friday at $123.98 while April futures increased 90 cents on the week at $122.85. Corn futures prices were up this week with March futures up a dime at $3.74 and May futures up 9 cents at $3.80.
Wholesale boxed beef prices were up significantly this week with Choice boxes averaging $205.86, up $11.38 from a week ago. Select boxes ended the week with an average of $201.81, an increase of $9.94 from last week. The choice-select spread increased by $1.44 to $4.05.
Note: all cattle and beef prices are quoted in dollars per hundredweight and corn prices are quoted in dollars per bushel unless stated otherwise.