Cattle Quick Thoughts
Demand for beef in export markets started 2017 strong according to the most recent report. USDA ERS released the livestock trade data totals for January 2017 on March 9th. Exports in the month of January 2017 were 21 percent higher than in January 2016, an increase of over 36 million pounds. While there are many reasons why exports have increased, the price of beef is an important factor in the quantity of beef demanded in the export market. The average select boxed beef price was $217.52 for January 2016 compared to $189.54 for January 2017. Consumers generally demand more beef when prices are lower. On the import side, beef imports in January 2017 were 20 percent lower than in January 2016 – down almost 59 million pounds.
Cash cattle showed gains in most markets. Cash traded fed cattle were higher again this week – up 42 cents to an average of $125.25 for live sales while dressed steers were up $1.58 to an average of $201.57. Fed cattle trade volume was just over 103,000 head.
Mississippi feeder steers weighing 450-500 pounds were up $3 to $154 while 750-800 pound steers were up a buck to $121. Feeder prices in Oklahoma City for 500-550 pound steers were up $1.21 to $157.84 while OKC 750-800 pound steers were up $2.43 from last week to $128.06.
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Futures prices finished the week higher across the board. April live cattle were up $1.52 over last week to $117.55 while June live cattle were up 82 cents to $107.60. March feeder cattle were up $3.58 from last Friday to $127.55 while April feeder futures increased $3.95 on the week to $126.80. Corn futures prices dropped this week with March and May futures each down 16 cents to $3.58 and $3.64, respectively.
Wholesale boxed beef prices continued to strengthen this week. Choice boxes averaged $214.12, up $8.26 from a week ago. Select boxes ended the week at an average of $207.26, an increase of $5.45 from last week. The choice-select spread increased to $6.86, up $2.81 from last week.
Note: all cattle and beef prices are quoted in dollars per hundredweight and corn prices are quoted in dollars per bushel unless stated otherwise.