Market News

Cash cattle business remains sluggish

Chicago Mercantile Exchange live and feeder cattle futures were lower ahead of the week’s widespread direct business. Contracts were up early, but couldn’t follow through due to losses in the stock market linked to economic uncertainties. June live cattle were down $1.00 at $160.22 and August was $.97 lower at $159.77. May feeders were down $.87 at $202.27 and August was $1.20 lower at $219.50.

Tuesday was another very quiet day for direct cash cattle business. Bids remain very elusive, and significant trade volume will likely be delayed for another day or two. That have been some early suggestions that Southern live asking prices will start out around $170, but nothing reported out of the North.

At the Callaway Livestock Center in Missouri, demand was good to very good on a moderate supply. USDA says that compared to last week, steer calves weighing 450 to 600 pounds sold $5 to $8 higher, 600 to 700 pounds sold steady to firm on comparable weights, with 700 to 750 pound steers selling $2 to $4 higher. Feeder heifers weighing 400 to 500 pounds sold firm to $3 higher, with 500 to 600 pound heifers selling $8 to $10 higher on a very active market. Feeder supply included 71% steers and 53% of the offering was over 600 pounds.

Boxed beef closed higher. Choice was $2.85 higher at $287.94 and Select was up $3.77 at $277.95. The Choice/Select spread is $9.99.

Estimated cattle slaughter is 126,000 head – down 1,000 on the week and up 1,000 on the year.

Lean hog futures were sharply lower pressured by cash and wholesale business during the session, along with long-term pork demand concerns. April was $2.30 lower at $72.22 and June was down $1.85 at $89.57.

Cash hogs were steady to lower with strong closing negotiated numbers at the major direct markets. It looks like buyers are bound to move the needed near-term numbers at lower prices with little resistance, indicating satisfactory supplies. Still, the trend could switch if those buyers run into weather issues impacting movement this week or they decide to have a bigger run ahead of the expected slowdown for Good Friday. Even then, uncertainties about sustained pork demand would likely keep a cap on gains.

Barrows and gilts at the National Daily Direct closed $.28 lower with a base range of $66 to $74 and a weighted average of $72.38. The Iowa/Minnesota had no comparison but a weighted average of $72.53; the Western Corn Belt had no comparison but a weighted average of $72.67; and the Eastern Corn Belt also had no comparison but a weighted average of $72.07.

No price trends for butcher hogs with the Dorchester, Wisconsin and Garnavillo, Iowa cash markets closed this week.

At Illinois, slaughter sow prices were $2 lower with good demand for heavy offerings at $38 to $50. Barrows and gilts were steady with moderate demand for moderate offerings at $46 to $58. Boars were $15 to $25 and $8 to $15.

Pork values closed lower – down $1.47 at $76.85. Bellies, hams, picnics, butts and loins were lower. Ribs were higher.

Estimate hog slaughter is 481,000 head – up 1,000 on the week and even on the year.

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