Market News

Cattle futures higher watching, waiting on cash business to unfold

At the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, live and feeder cattle were up waiting for direct business to develop.  The trade continues to monitor the impact of the winter weather systems this week. February live cattle closed $1.05 higher at $171.80 and April lives closed $.90 higher at $174.57.  March feeders closed $1.27 higher at $227.40 and April feeders closed $1.27 higher at $232.72. 

Another light round of direct cash cattle trade developed Thursday.  Deals were marked at mostly $273 with a few at $275 dressed in the North, that’s steady to $2 below the previous week’s business.  The rest of cattle country remains quiet.  Significant trade volume has been hindered by severe winter weather that has been problematic for much of the country.

At the Huss Livestock Market in Nebraska, steers 650 to 750 pounds were steady to $5 higher, and steers 750 to 900 pounds were steady to $2 lower.  Heifers 600 to 850 pounds were steady to $7 lower.  The USDA says demand was moderate to good from the buyers in-house and online.  Receipts were down on the week and the year.  Feeder supply included 64% steers and 80% of the offering was over 600 pounds.  Medium and Large 1 feeder steers 653 to 689 pounds brought $257 to $263.50 and feeder steers 756 to 782 pounds brought $230.25 to $240.  Medium and Large 1 feeder heifers 600 to 644 pounds brought $236 to $249.50 and feeder heifers 700 to 727 pounds brought $217 to $226.50. 

Boxed beef closed higher with solid demand for moderate offerings.  Choice was $2.82 higher at $285.89 and Select closed $3.00 higher at $269.94.  The Choice/Select spread is $15.95.  Estimated cattle slaughter was 120,000 head – down 6,000 on the week and down 2,000 on the year.

Lean hog futures were mostly higher on spread trade and near-term demand optimism.  February lean hogs closed $.52 higher at $72.60 and April lean hogs closed $.10 higher at $70.05. 

Cash hogs closed mixed with another light negotiated run.  Processors haven’t needed to ramp up their procurement efforts to move needed numbers.  Demand for U.S. pork has been strong on the global market, which helps provide price support.  But ample supplies of market-ready hogs and heavier weight add more pork into the mix, giving packers more leverage. Export sales kicked off the 2024 marketing year, which began January 1, solid with Mexico, Japan, and South Korea leading the way.  Barrows and gilts at the National Daily Direct were $.22 higher with a base range of $42 to $47.50 and a weighted average of $45.49; the Iowa/Minnesota closed $.39 lower with a weighted average of $45.35; the Western Corn Belt closed $.18 lower with a weighted average of $45.49. Prices at the Eastern Corn Belt were not reported due to confidentiality.

Butcher hog prices at the Midwest cash markets are steady at $36. At Illinois, slaughter sow prices were $1 lower with moderate demand for heavy offerings at $25 to $37.  Barrows and gilts were steady with moderate demand for moderate offerings at $25 to $35.  Boars ranged from $10 to $20 and $5 to $10.

Pork values closed lower – down $2.12 at $84.54.  Hams and butts were sharply lower.  Picnics and loins were lower.  Bellies and ribs were up. Estimated hog slaughter was 490,000 head – down 1,000 on the week and up 2,000 on the year.

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