Cattle country was generally quiet on Thursday afternoon with significant trade volume probably delayed until sometime Friday. A light to moderate trade was evident in parts of Colorado with dressed sales steady to 2.00 lower than last week at 203.00 to 204.00. General asking prices are around 129.00 plus in the South and 205.00 to 207.00 plus in the North. The kill totaled 124,000 head, 4,000 smaller than both a week and a year ago.
Boxed beef cutout values were firm on light to moderate demand and offerings. Choice beef was up .26 at 193.81, and select was up .43 at 183.96.
Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle contracts settled unchanged to 27 points lower. The market spent much of the session on either side of unchanged with nearby contracts limited to single digit price moves. The lack of overall activity was not surprising given that most commodities were extremely slow to show much activity. Traders appear to be waiting for further clarity of grain market direction following Friday’s crop report as well as the direction of the cash cattle trade. February settled unchanged at 131.55, and April was down .27 at 135.07.
Feeder cattle settled 65 to 87 points lower on the slow but continued support in the corn futures market through the last several trading sessions. With little direction from the live futures and cash cattle trade slow to develop, it appears that most feeder futures were willing to move in opposite direction of the corn market ahead of Friday’s crop production report. January settled .65 lower at 150.85, and March was down .85 at 152.90.
Feeder cattle receipts at the Huss Platte Valley Auction in Nebraska totaled 5800 head on Wednesday. Compared to last week, steers were 1.00 to 7.00 higher and heifers were 2.00 to 5.00 higher. Demand was good on all weights of cattle. Feeder steers, medium and large 1 weighing an average of 676 lbs. brought 162.81 per hundredweight. 626 lb. heifers averaged 147.07.
Lean hogs settled from 47 points higher to 22 lower with just a couple of months in the red. Inactivity seemed to be the keyword seen throughout the livestock complex and lean hog futures market. Very little direction was able to develop with most traders seemingly paralyzed by the potential impact of the USDA crop production report due for release tomorrow, according to DTN’s Rick Kment. The direction of the grain markets will not be the only markets to be affected by the ripples of the report, and traders are being extremely cautious to say the least. February settled .40 higher at 84.60, and April was down .22 at 87.10.
There was an active hog market with good demand on Thursday. Barrows and gilts in the Iowa/Minnesota direct trade closed .22 higher at 83.74 on a carcass basis, the West was up .20 at 83.64., and the East was down .82 at 81.72. Missouri direct base carcass meat price closed 1.00 lower from 74.00 to 76.00. Terminal hogs were steady to 2.00 higher from 51.50 to 56.00.
Pork trading was moderate with light to moderate demand and mostly moderate to heavy offerings. Pork carcass cutout value was up .49 at 83.47.
Iowa barrows and gilts averaged 276.3 pounds last week, 0.5 pounds heavier than the previous week and 1.7 pounds lighter than 2012.
Thursday hog slaughter was estimated at 432,000 head, 1,000 less than last week, and 7,000 more than last year.