Cattle trade in the south at higher prices

USDA Mandatory reported cattle trading was limited in the Texas Panhandle on Wednesday and moderate in Kansas on moderate demand. Compared to last week, live sales were 3.00 higher at 125.00. Several sellers in the Texas Panhandle continued to pass. Trading was inactive in all other areas. The Northern market remains untested with packer bids few and far between. Trade volume in general should pick up sometime on Thursday or Friday. The kill totaled 119,000 head, 4,000 below both a week and a year ago.

Boxed beef cutout values were steady on moderate demand and offerings. Choice boxed beef was .13 lower at 186.78, and select was .08 lower at 181.02.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle contracts settled 30 points higher to 30 lower. The February futures drifted back and forth from higher to lower but the deferred contracts held moderate progress. There seemed to be more buying caution near the front of the pit, a nervousness probably tied to cash discounted and ongoing signs of lackluster beef demand. February settled .27 lower at 128.00 and the April was down .05 at 132.92.

Feeder cattle settled mostly lower except for the front months. The deferred contracts were pressured by buying strength in the corn pit. January was up .02 at 145.82, and March was .27 higher at 149.10.

Loup City Commission Company, Loup City, Nebraska had cattle receipts of 2200 head on Tuesday. Compared to last week’s thin test, steers and heifers sold steady to 2.00 higher. Demand was good from a moderate size crowd. Several large strings of longtime weaned calves on hand. Most offerings were carrying a little extra flesh, but it didn’t deter feedlots from procuring cattle. 813 pound feeder steers average 143.17 per hundredweight. 677 pound heifers brought an average of 139.41.

Lean hogs settled 25 higher to 37 lower. Support came from the recent evidence of carcass strength and the premium of the cash lean index over spot February. Futures remained range bound and failed to rally.  February settled unchanged at 87.10, and April was down .37 at 89.25.

Barrows and gilts in the Iowa/Minnesota direct trade closed 2.33 higher at 86.79 on a carcass basis, the West was up 2.27 at 86.71, and the East was .67 higher at 82.11. Missouri direct base carcass meat price closed steady to 1.00 lower at 79.00. Terminal hogs on a live basis were steady top 1.00 lower from 55.00 to 58.00.

Pork trading was slow with light demand and mostly moderate offerings. Pork carcass cutout vale was down 1.12 at 85.46.

If the pork cut-out is to break out of the current range, Easter ham buying will have to be a major driver. Many believe that hams should gain up to $5 over the next four weeks as the Easter holiday approaches.

Wednesday’s hog kill was estimated at 417,000 head, 9,000 less than last week and the same as last year.

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