Livestock futures markets were sluggish on Tuesday

It was a typical Tuesday in cattle country with the cash trade very quiet. Significant trade could be delayed again until late in the week. Some of the showlists have been priced around 134.00 in the South and 210.00 to 212.00 in the North. Though the new showlists are mixed, some larger in Texas, Nebraska and Colorado, and substantially smaller in Kansas, the overall supply of ready cattle appears to be tighter this week. USDA estimated the slaughter at 120,000 head, 1,000 smaller than last week and 8,000 below 2012.

 Boxed beef cutout values were steady to weak on light demand and light to moderate offerings. Choice beef was down .38 at 202.12, select was down .11 at 188.01.

Live cattle contracts settled 7 points higher to 40 lower on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Tuesday. The weakness in hog futures and lack of additional direction from outside markets limited buyer interest. Boxed beef values were mixed at midday. December settled .07 higher at 131.67, and February was down .40 at 132.65.

Feeder cattle ended the session 2 to 40 points higher. Pressure in the market was directed by the softness in live futures however lower corn values were supportive to the market. January settled .40 higher at 165.55, and March was up .07 at 165.47.

Nebraska cattle auctions saw receipts of 22,706 head last week. Feeder steers weighing less than 500 pounds sold 3.00 to 7.00 higher and heifers weighing less than 500 pounds were 2.00 higher. Steers and heifers over 500 pounds trended steady to 3.00 lower with the most decline on bawling calves without preconditioning shots. 1629 feeder steers averaging 619 pounds traded at 183.13 per hundredweight. 245 replacement heifers with an average weight of 580 brought 190.72.

Lean hogs settled unchanged to 112 points lower. Losses developed through the lean pit with the lack of renewed direction in the complex erasing the support seen on Monday. The volatility once again pushed the markets into a tailspin that could draw additional movement through the rest of the week. December settled .55 lower at 80.82, and February was down 1.12 at 88.72.

Barrows and gilts in the Iowa/Minnesota direct trade closed 1.86 lower at 77.56 on a carcass basis, the West was down 1.56 at 77.46, and Eastern hogs were .62 lower at 77,76. Missouri direct base carcass meat price was steady from 71.00 to 75.00. Terminal hogs closed steady to an instance of 1.00 lower from 53.00 to 56.00 live.

The pork carcass value was down .59 at 91.65 FOB plant.

The past five weeks have seen pork production rise sharply, exceeding year-ago levels three times. Such increases are tied to significantly higher carcass weights, engineered by finishing floors short of numbers thanks to PED. Producers may not be able to compensate like this over the long haul, but they certainly seem to pull it off through the balance of the fourth quarter.

Tuesday’s hog slaughter was estimated at 436,000 head, 4,000 less than last week, but 6,000 greater than last year.

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