Packer inquiry in the cattle improved on Thursday

Despite better packer inquiry, the cash cattle market remained untested on Thursday. Bids on the live in both the North and the South were at 127.00, and dressed bids from 200.00 to 202.00. DTN reported they had heard a few cattle traded in Iowa at 125.00 but generally speaking feedlot managers continue to hold for asking prices of 130.00 in the South and 205.00 to 207.00 in the North. The kill totaled 121,000 head, 2,000 greater than last week and 1,000 more than last year.

Boxed beef cutout values were lower on light demand and light to moderate offerings. Choice boxed beef was 1.17 lower at 196.37, and select was down .87 at 195.13.

Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle contracts settled 30 to 75 points lower.  Live cattle contracts were once again directed by the moves in the extremely lightly traded feeder cattle futures market. Feeder cattle held triple digit losses through most of the morning, and any previous bullishness in live cattle contracts quickly evaporated. Lower boxed beef values in the morning report and questions about price direction in the cash cattle trade also weighed on futures. April settled .50 lower at 128.05, and June was down .30 at 123.15.

Feeder cattle contracts settled 72 to 137 lower on the bounce in corn futures. March feeders closed .72 lower at 138.27, and April was down 1.17 at 141.55.

Feeder cattle receipts at the Hub City Livestock Auction at Aberdeen. South Dakota totaled 4012 head on Wednesday. Compared to last week feeder steers and heifers sold steady to 1.00 higher. It was an active market with good demand. Feeder steers medium and large 1 averaging 809 pounds traded at 132.40 per hundredweight. 779 pound heifers brought 125.22.

Lean hogs settled 10 to 45 points higher but were pressured much of the session by concerns of pork demand in the domestic and export markets. Lower cash hog prices added additional pressure to futures. Futures rallied some at midday to close higher. April settled .22 higher at 80.87, and June was up .45 at 90.52.

There was slow market activity with light demand in the cash hogs on Thursday. Barrows and gilts in the Iowa/Minnesota direct trace closed .40 lower at 74.66 on a carcass basis, the West was down 1.49 at 73.58, and the East was .26 higher at 79.41. Missouri direct base carcass meat price was steady from 68.00 to 71.00. Terminal hogs closed steady to .50 lower from 47.00 to 55.00.

Pork trading was moderate on moderate demand and heavy offerings. Pork carcass cutout value was down .90 at 77.54.

Iowa barrows and gilts last week averaged 276.9 pounds, 0.8 pounds heavier than the previous week and 0.6 bigger than 2012. Seasonally, weights could increase for several more weeks before turning lower.

Hog slaughter was estimated at 424,000 head, 5,000 less than last week, but 7,000 more than last year.

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