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Cattle futures mostly higher waiting on cash business

At the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, live cattle were mostly higher, and feeders were up ahead of the week’s direct cash business.  Boxed beef was also higher. February live cattle closed $.02 lower at $170.75 and April lives closed $.07 higher at $173.67.  March feeder cattle closed $1.25 higher at $226.12 and April feeders closed $1.10 higher at $231.45. 

Direct cash cattle trade activity remained relatively quiet Wednesday.  Bids didn’t surface.  Asking prices were around $174-plus live in the South, while the North was quiet.  There was a handful of trade reported in Iowa with live deals marked at $175 and dressed business at $275. But not enough business to establish an accurate price trend. Look for significant trade volume to hold out until Thursday or even well into Friday.

At the North Platte Stockyards Livestock Auction in Nebraska, there was a higher undertone noted throughout the day.  The USDA says demand was good, with several buyers in-house and buying online.   The offering was comprised of mostly weaned calves with fall vaccinations, there were a handful of yearlings in the run.  Receipts were down on the year.  Feeder supply included 45% steers and 56% of the offering was over 600 pounds.  Medium and Large 1 feeder steers 605 to 624 pounds brought $266.50 to $279 and feeder steers 710 to 719 pounds brought $237 to $244.75.  Medium and Large 1 feeder heifers 552 to 592 pounds brought $241 to $286 and feeder heifers 650 to 690 pounds brought $222.50 to $239.50.

Boxed beef closed higher with solid demand for decent offerings.  Choice was $2.97 higher at $283.07 and Select closed $4.11 higher at $266.94.  The Choice/Select spread is $16.13.   Estimated cattle slaughter was 113,000 head – down 15,000 on the week and down more than 11,000 on the year. 

Lean hog futures ended the day higher, supported by stronger pork values. February lean hogs closed $.02 higher at $72.07 and April lean hogs closed $.45 higher at $78.95. 

Cash hogs closed lower with a moderate negotiated run.   Processors pulled back on their procurement efforts as the day progressed.  The ample supplies of market-ready hogs, combined with increased hog weights (and more pork) give packers the leverage to do business on their terms. Hog weights rose again this week to 293.1 pounds, that’s up .6 of a pound from last week and 1.4 pounds over year-ago levels.  Demand for US pork remains relatively strong on the global market, and that’s supportive of prices.  But, domestic demand continues its struggle. Barrows and gilts at the National Daily Direct closed $.04 lower with a base range of $41 to $46 and a weighted average of $45.27; the Iowa/Minnesota closed $.39 lower with a weighted average of $45.74; the Western Corn Belt closed $.14 lower with a weighted average of $45.67.  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 steady with moderate demand for moderate offerings at $26 to $38.  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 higher – up $2.14 at $86.67. Bellies, hams, loins, butts, and picnics were all higher.  Ribs were weak. Estimated hog slaughter was 470,000 head – up 1,000 on the week and down more than 14,000 on the year.

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