Cattle trading in the South was probably pretty well wrapped up by midafternoon on Friday at 125.00, mostly steady with last week. Trading in the North was slow to develop with scattered dressed sales evident in Nebraska at 200.00 to 201.00, 1.00 to 2.00 lower than last week. There were a few live sales in Iowa at 126.00. Between defensive beef cutouts, poor processing margins, and sharply lower futures, packers remained very defensive. On the other hand, packers are very close to the knife and looking at extremely tight fed supplies over the next several months. Asking prices are around 203.00, but the standoff in the North may not be resolved until late in the day. The weekly cattle kill was estimated at 593,000 head, 28,000 less than last week and down 6,000 from last year.
Boxed beef cutout values were lower on light demand and moderate offerings. The choice beef was down 1.34 at 182.12, and select was 1.51 lower at 179.62.
Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle contracts settled 97 to 150 points lower. The early mixed trade in the live pit quickly evaporated following the release of the USDA crop report. Even though light increases were made in overall corn stocks in the report, this was not enough to overcome the pre-report estimates. The building pressure in boxed beef values as well as expectations for still tight corn supplies through the rest of the spring caused sharp losses to quickly develop in the futures market. February settled 1.10 points lower at 126.45, and April was down 1.40 at 130.12.
Feeder cattle settled 190 to 262 points lower pressured by the weakness in the live pit. March settled 2.20 lower at 145.00 and April was down 2.37 at 148.20.
Feeder cattle receipts at Missouri auctions this week totaled 39,672 head. Compared to last week, feeder steers and heifers sold uneven, from 5.00 lower to 5.00 higher, with light weight calves less than 500 lbs. ranging from 15.00 lower to 5.00 higher. The supply of feeders was moderate to heavy, with several reporters noting more big strings of yearlings in the offering. Demand was moderate to good. 1491 head of feeder steers medium and large 1 averaging 625 lbs. traded at 161.17 per hundredweight. 1051 heifers weighing 627 brought an average of 143.30.
Lean hogs ended the session 25 higher to 52 lower. The market remained relatively directionless through much of the session with light losses in the nearby contracts while light to moderate support was established in the deferred issues. The lack of additional news in the market seemed to draw some end of the week noncommercial short covering back into the market ahead of the weekend. February settled .52 lower at 86.45, and April was down .40 at 86.12.
There was slow market activity with light demand in the hogs on Friday. Barrows and gilts in the Iowa/Minnesota direct trade closed 1.05 lower at 84.70 on a carcass basis, Western direct down 1.18 at 84.55, the East was .40 lower at 85,56. Missouri direct base carcass meat price was steady and closed from 82.00 to 85.00.
Pork trading was slow, with light to moderate demand and offerings. Pork carcass cutout value was up .54 at 82.23.
The weekly hog slaughter at 2,139,000 head is 37,000 less than last week, and 27,000 more than last year.
With part of the Northeast likely to catch 1-2 feet of snow this weekend, the restaurant trade and general meat movement will be curtailed in major population centers.