Market News

Hog futures pressured by premium to cash

Chicago Mercantile Exchange live and feeder cattle futures were lower, with boxed beef down at midday, getting ready for the week’s widespread direct business. Feeders also saw profit taking after Wednesday’s gains, despite another round of losses in corn. February live was down $.35 at $168.92 and April was $.70 lower at $172.27. January feeders were $2 lower at $222.47 and March was down $2.27 at $223.12.

Direct cash cattle business was light. Sales were reported at mostly $172 live in Kansas and Texas, up $1 from last week’s weighted average. Business in Nebraska was at $172 to $173 live, $1 to $2 higher. Scattered dressed sales ranged from $270 to mostly $272.  There’s more trade to be done ahead of the long holiday weekend, with moderate buyer demand against many producers holding out for steady to higher money. Asking prices were $175+ on the live basis and $275+ dressed, with bids of $172 live and $270 to $272 dressed in Nebraska. This week’s show list looks mixed, nearly unchanged in Kansas, at least a little lower in Texas, and higher in Nebraska and Colorado.

Boxed beef closed lower with moderate to good movement. Choice was down $.20 at $291.28 and Select beef was $1.08 lower at $259.24. The estimated cattle slaughter of 125,000 head was unchanged on the week and up 1,000 on the year.

In Colorado last week, compared to the previous week, feeder steers weighing less than 700 pounds were $6 to $12 lower, while 700-to-750-pound steers were $8 higher and steers weighing more than 750 were down $11 to $12 in a light test. Feeder heifers weighing less than 550 pounds were mostly $3 to $5 lower, with 550-to-700-pound heifers $6 to $9 higher and heifers weighing more than 750 pounds were unevenly steady in a light test. The UDSA says trade activity and demand were both moderate to good with receipts down on the week, up on the year. Half of the feeder offering were steers and 63% of the total feeder run weighed less than 600 pounds. Medium and Large 1-2 feeder steers weighing 500 to 600 pounds were reported at $230 to $282.50 and 600-to-700-pound steers brought $224 to $244. Medium and Large 1 feeder heifers weighing 500 to 600 pounds ranged from $214 to $236 and Medium and Large 1-2 heifers weighing 500 to 600 pounds sold at $220 to $240.

Lean hog futures were lower, with contracts at a premium to the cash index, ignoring the largely positive fundamentals during the session. The USDA’s weekly export sales report, out Friday, will be closely watched. February was down $1.42 at $68.45 and April was $.92 lower at $75.

Cash hogs were mixed, with light closing negotiated sales at the major direct markets. Buyers are trying to stay current ahead of a slow weekend and slow start to next week because of New Year’s festivities, but many seem to have acquired the needed near-term numbers. The recent trend in wholesale business indicates good retail holiday clearance and could continue to help keep a floor under prices heading into 2024. It looks like a recent burst of winter weather in the region had minimal impact on movement.

National direct barrows and gilts closed $.10 higher with a base price range of $41 to $48 and a weighted average of $46.36, while the Western Corn Belt was $.66 lower, also averaging $46.36. Iowa/Southern Minnesota had no recent comparison with a weighted average of $47.69. The Eastern Corn Belt was not reported due to confidentiality. Butcher hogs at the Midwest cash markets were steady at $44. Illinois direct sows were steady at $28 to $40 with moderate demand for light to moderate offerings. Barrows and gilts were steady at $25 to $35 on moderate demand and offerings. Boars ranged from $5 to $20.

Pork closed $.06 higher at $82.50. Loins and bellies were up sharply, canceling out losses in butts, picnics, ribs, and bellies. The estimated hog slaughter of 490,000 head was up 5,000 on the week and 10,000 on the year.

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