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Cash cattle and beef prices fell further as weak beef prices provided plenty of pressure. The five-area live fed steer price ended Friday at $140.56, down $5.24 compared to last Friday. Cash trade was light for most of the week with sales in the Southern Plains not registering enough to call any trends. Limited trade in Nebraska and the Western Cornbelt had live and dressed cattle at $140.50-$141 and $225, respectively.
The sale in Oklahoma City was small this week due to more winter weather (3,394 total receipts compared to 8,974 last week). All calves and feeders were called steady. Mississippi auction markets experienced a similar trend as steer and heifer calves and feeders were mostly steady across the board. On the other hand, cull cows and bulls were up quite a bit, respectively $1-$4 higher and $1-$3 higher.
In keeping pace with the underlying cash prices, nearby futures prices (Feb and Apr) slid just a bit this week, but deferred contract months moved slightly higher. The weakness in the cash markets have weighed heavy on futures. Also, the sour economic picture that has been forming the past couple of weeks has done little to help and keeps a dark cloud over potential growth in beef demand. Friday’s Labor Department report showing 113,000 jobs were added during January versus an expected 189,000 and following a dismal increase of 75,000 in December added more fuel to this concern. Spring feeder contracts were down this week, as was the August contract but the rest of the fall contracts were slightly higher. Corn prices were fairly strong this week putting pressure on feeder purchases.
Corn futures were higher this week ahead of Monday’s supply and demand report. Trade took the headlines early in the week as an undisclosed order surfaced, but this was offset later in the week as a shipment (assumed to be for China delivery) was cancelled. South American production estimates also started to filter into the market with both Argentina and Brazil expected to have smaller crops in this month’s report. Look for a post on Monday detailing the USDA’s numbers.
Beef prices rose quickly to catch the hot fed market and have now fallen just as fast. Choice boxed beef finished with a weekly average of $216.30, down $15.68. Select averaged $215.35, down $15.81.
Note: all cattle and beef prices are quoted in dollars per hundredweight and corn prices are quoted in dollars per bushel, unless stated otherwise.