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Cattle futures begin the week higher, lean hog futures sharply lower

At the CME, live and feeder cattle futures were higher, getting ready for the week’s direct business. There was also some positive influence from the higher midday move in beef. Feeders were able to hold onto their gains despite corn firming up late in the session. February live was $.55 higher at $160.82 and April was up $.35 at $164.47. March feeders were $1.60 higher at $187.70 and April was up $1.12 at $191.75.

Direct cash cattle ended Monday quiet. Show lists appeared to be mixed, higher in Texas and Nebraska and Colorado, but slightly lower in Kansas.  A few early ideas were that Southern asking prices started out around $161 to $162.  Bids did not establish.

At the Lexington Livestock Market in Nebraska, compared to last week, steers 550 to 750 pounds sold steady to $3 higher and steers 750 to 850 pounds sold $5 higher. Heifers over 550 pounds sold steady to $3 higher.  The USDA says demand was good from the buyers in the crowd.  Receipts were down on the week, but up on the year. 61 percent of the feeder supply was steers and 82 percent was over 600 pounds.  Medium and Large 1 feeder steers 567 to 597 pounds sold $213 to $226.50 with an average price of $220.14.  Feeder steers 707 to 722 pounds sold $185 to $191.50 with an average price of $190.50.  Medium and Large 1 Feeder heifers 672 to 685 pounds brought $169 to $178 with a weighted average price $175.99 and feeder heifers 761 to 778 pounds brought $175.50 to $177 with a weighted average price of $176.27.

Boxed beef cutout values closed higher with Choice $1.83 higher at $266.57 and Select closed $2.11 higher at $253.72.  The Choice/Select spread is $12.85. Estimated cattle slaughter is 120,000, down 1,000 on the week and 3,000 on the year.

Lean hog futures were mostly sharply lower on spread trade and contracts’ premium to the cash index. Traders largely ignored the midday strength in pork because of the recent volatility in the wholesale market. February was up $.02 at $75.05 and April was down $3.75 at $82.72.

Cash hogs closed mixed with processors moving some product but weren’t as aggressive to begin the week. While demand has held relatively strong on the global market and domestically, it has pulled back from recent levels.  There are concerns US pork could face some pressure globally as China has increased its pork production in the last year.  That said, pork does remain a value buy for consumers in the retail space and there’s optimism that could provide a little demand boost. Barrows and gilts at the National Daily Direct closed $.31 lower with a base range of $65 to $77 with a weighted average price of $72.34; the Iowa/Minnesota was $1.53 higher with a weighted average price of $74.63; the Western Corn Blet closed $1.54 higher with a weighted average price of $74.63.  The Eastern Corn Belt did not report due to confidentiality reasons.

Butcher hogs are mixed with Dorchester up $6 and Garnavillo steady, both at $66. Pork values closed $2.53 higher at $81.62.  Loins, butts, picnics, ribs and hams were higher.  Belies were sharply higher. Estimated hog slaughter is 487,000, up 12,000 on the week and 8,000 on the year.

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