Market News

Cattle futures down, getting ready for direct business

Chicago Mercantile Exchange live and feeder cattle were sharply lower on technical selling ahead of this week’s direct business. April live was down $1.40 at $182.35 and June was $1.30 lower at $180.47. March feeders were $2.05 lower at $242.75 and April was down $1.95 at $248.25.

Direct cash cattle markets were at a standstill. As usual for a Monday, the big feature was the distribution of this week’s show list, which looks larger in all of the major feeding areas. Bids and asking prices were not established, with widespread activity not expected until the second half of the week. Last week’s light to moderate business was at $176 to $179 live, mostly $178 in Texas, up $3, and mainly $178 to $179 in Kansas, $4 to $5 higher. Dressed sales were $275 to $283, primarily at $280, a week-to-week gain of $3. Trade volume and formula totals were both lower.

At midsession for the Oklahoma National Stockyards feeder cattle sale, steers were steady to $4 higher and heifers were up $3 to $8. Steer calves were $3 to $6 higher and heifer calves were up $1 to $5. The USDA says demand was very good for an average to attractive offering, even with the drop in the futures market, with some 600- and 700-pound cattle being purchased for grass. Feedlot conditions were muddy due to weekend rainfall. Receipts were up on the week and the year. 59% of the offering were steers and 56% of all feeder cattle weighed more than 600 pounds. Medium and Large 1 feeder steers weighing 600 to 700 pounds ranged from $245 to $300 and 700-to-800-pound steers sold at $227 to $251. Medium and Large 1 feeder heifers weighing 500 to 600 pounds were reported at $242 to $272 and 600-to-700-pound heifers brought $227 to $271.

Boxed beef closed firm with light to moderate movement. Choice was up $.40 at $293.48 and Select beef was $.30 higher at $283.77. The estimated cattle slaughter of 125,000 head was unchanged on the week and up 6,472 on the year.

Lean hog futures were pressured by the cash and wholesale business during the session, along with contracts’ premium to the cash index. April was $1.62 lower at $82.20 and June was down $1.45 at $96.05.

Cash hogs were mixed, with light closing negotiated sales at the major direct markets. This week started like many of the recent past weeks, with a relative lack of buyer interest at those major direct markets as they get a look at their near-term needs, on hand supplies, and demand signals. Buyers will likely continue to issue those lower bids as long as possible in the face of questions about sustained demand. Wholesale demand held up very well for most of January but is starting to show some signs of slowing down.

National direct barrows and gilts closed $.89 lower with a base price range of $57 to $64.50 for a weighted average of $60.87, with Iowa/Southern Minnesota down $2.43 at $60.97 and the Western Corn Belt $2.72 lower at $60.68. The Eastern Corn Belt had no recent comparison with a weighted average of $60.20. Midwest butcher hogs were steady at $48. Illinois direct sows were $2 higher at $29 to $41 with moderate demand for moderate offerings. Barrows and gilts were up $2 at $30 to $40 also on moderate demand and offerings. Boars ranged from $5 to $25.

Pork closed $.80 lower at $87.60. Loins were down and bellies fell sharply, while butts, picnics, ribs, and hams were firm to sharply higher. The estimated hog slaughter of 492,000 head was up 2,000 on the week and 13,894 on the year.

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