With the exception of a few scattered cleanup deals, feedlot country was fairly quiet on Thursday afternoon. Business seems to be essentially done for the week. Positively, trade volume totals look rather small, perhaps forcing packers to become more aggressive early next week when they will be buying for the first full kill week of April. Negatively, the beef market remains in tough shape with packers still looking for adequate retail demand. The kill totaled 124,000 head, 8,000 more than last week, but 5,000 below last year.
Boxed beef cutout values were sharply lower on moderate demand and heavy offerings. Choice boxed beef was down 2.13 at 178.51, and select was 1.71 lower at 176.66.
Live cattle futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange finished the week strong with contracts 42 to 70 points higher, after struggling all week long. They came nowhere close to winning the week but put in a good showing on Thursday. Most traders were squaring positions ahead of the long holiday weekend with the potential for additional light support developing when trade resumes on Monday. April settled .42 higher at 118.32, and June was up .70 at 115.82.
Feeder cattle ended the session 5 to 60 points higher. The tone of the market remained under pressure with extremely light trade. Feeders did receive some support from the higher live pit. April was up .05 at 148.72, and May was .12 higher at 148.32.
Feeder cattle receipts at the Bassett Livestock Auction, Bassett, NE totaled 4480 head of cattle on Wednesday. No recent test of the market for an accurate comparison. Demand was good for all offerings with several buyers in the seats and several lots of quality reputation replacement heifers. Feeder steers medium and large 1; 460 head with an average weight of 613 lbs. traded at 177.88 per hundredweight. 250 heifers weighing 578 lbs. brought 153.77 on average.
Lean hogs settled 65 to 152 points higher. The strong gains returned to the hog pit as traders once again focused on the potential for pork demand to bounce higher through the remainder of the spring. The upcoming Easter weekend is expected to spark additional buyer support in the ham market, although most if not all of the wholesale buying has been completed. But traders appeared to be more focused on the direction of consumer buying interest, which will become clearer by the middle of next week. April settled .65 higher at 84.50, and June was up the most at 93.52 up 1.52.
Barrows and gilts in the Iowa/Minnesota direct trade closed 2.76 higher at 83.85 weighted averages on a carcass basis, the West was up 2.19 at 83.23, and the East was unchanged at 77.76. Missouri direct base carcass meat price closed steady to 2.00 higher from 75.00 to 78.00. Terminal prices were steady in a light test from 54.00 to 56.00 live.
Pork trading was slow to moderate with light to moderate demand and mostly moderate offerings. Pork carcass cutout value was down .42 at 78.15.
Thursday’s hog kill was estimated at 415,000 head, 2,000 more than last week and last year.