Cash cattle trade slow to develop

Except for a few bids in Kansas and Texas at 122.00 the cash cattle market was at a virtual standstill on Wednesday afternoon. There was very little direction from the futures market or the boxed beef trade at midday. Packers continue to battle poor margins as cattle feeders remain firm in their resolve of higher asking prices. Southern feedlot operators are asking 126.00 to 127.00 live while Northern feeders are looking for 195.00 plus. Significant trade is delayed until the end of the week. The cattle kill totaled 127,000 head, 6,000 more than last week, but 1,000 below a year ago.

Boxed beef cutout values were steady to weak on moderate demand and heavy offerings. Choice boxed beef was down .22 at 190.98, and select was .37 lower at 176.92.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle contracts settled 22 higher to 15 lower in very light volume and the tone of the market remained unchanged. Traders were watching and waiting for developments in the cash cattle market and beef trade. October cattle were up .22 at 124.92, and December was down .15 at 126.57.

Feeder cattle contracts settled 2 higher to 10 lower but mostly unchanged. Trade in the pit futures was undeveloped in the morning trade with only light action in the electronic market. The lack of direction in the live cattle complex and outside markets weighed on feeder futures, with very little buying support seen. October settled .02 higher at 144.72, and November was unchanged at 146.70.

There was a large run of feeder cattle at the Philip Livestock Auction at Philip, South Dakota on Tuesday and receipts totaled 8897 head. Compared to last week feeder steers weighing less than 450 lbs. were 4.00 to 6.00 lower, 450 to 500 lbs. were 5.00 higher and over 500 lbs. 2.00 to 3.00 higher. Feeder heifers were steady to 3.00 higher. There was very good demand for many long strings and part loads and packages of feeders which sold on a very active market. 1016 steers averaging 519 lbs. traded at an average of 170.47 per hundredweight. 490 heifers averaging 518 lbs. brought 151.57.

Lean hogs settled 30 to 130 points higher with the December contract leading the rally higher. Trade volume remained incredibly light through the session, which allowed the gains in the nearby contracts to hold through the end of trade. October settled .67 higher at 82.57, and December was up 1.30 at 78.10.

There was slow market activity with light demand in the hogs on Wednesday afternoon. Barrows and gilts in the Iowa/Minnesota direct trade closed .74 lower at 79.90 on a carcass basis, the West was down .54 at 79.94, and the East was .31 lower at 78.56. Missouri direct base carcass meat price was steady to 4.00 higher from 77.00 to 78.00. Barrows and gilts at the terminals closed steady to 2.00 higher from 52.00 to 58.00 live.

Pork trading was slow, with light to moderate demand and mostly moderate offerings. Pork carcass cutout value was up .96 at 86.65.

The hog slaughter was estimated at 434,000 head, 2,000 less than last week, but 5,000 more than last year. Pork processors are ready to run a string of green lights with Saturday kill plans now approaching 250,000 head.

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