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Cattle futures higher heading into Friday

At the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, live and feeder cattle ended the day higher on technical buying.  October live cattle closed $1.07 higher at $144.12 and December live cattle closed $1.50 higher at $147.77.  October feeder cattle closed $2.32 higher at $177.32 and November feeder cattle closed $2.55 higher at $177.82. 

It was a relatively quiet Thursday for direct cash cattle trade activity following a couple of days active business.  A handful of deals were reported in Nebraska at $145 live.  Asking prices for cattle left on showlists held firm around $144 to $145 live in the South and $230-plus dressed in the North.  There could be a little scattered trade before the end of the week, but it’s likely the bulk of the week’s business has wrapped up.  So far this week Southern live deals have been marked at $143, fully steady with last week’s weighted averages.  Northern dressed business has been at mostly $228, $1 lower than last week’s weighted average basis in Nebraska.  There were a few dressed deals at $231 dressed on Thursday, those were outliers, and made on higher quality cattle. 

At the Mitchell Livestock Auction in South Dakota, compared to last week there was a lower tone note on lightweight steers.  Steers 650 to 1000 pounds were steady to a higher undertone.  There was also a higher undertone on heifers up to 750 pounds, however a steady to lower undertone for heifers over 750 pounds.  The USDA says demand was good.  Receipts were up on the week and down on the year.  Feeder supply included 48% steers and 89% of the offering was over 600 pounds.  Medium and Large 1 feeder steers 815 to 821 pounds brought $177.75 to $181.50 and feeder steers 954 to 969 pounds brought $179.50 to $181.  Medium and Large 1 feeder heifers 854 to 880 pounds brought $162.10 to $164 and feeder heifers 953 to 983 pounds brought $159.75 to $169. 

Boxed beef closed mixed with light to moderate demand for solid offerings.  Choice closed $1.47 lower at $246.08 and Select closed $.57 higher at $219.78.  The Choice/Select spread is $26.30. Estimated cattle slaughter was 127,000 head – even on the week and up 6,000 on the year.

Lean hog futures ended the day mostly lower ahead of Thursday’s Quarterly Hogs and Pigs numbers.  The report does look relatively neutral to prices, but much will depend on demand strength.  October lean hogs closed $.07 higher at $89.45 and December lean hogs closed $.10 lower at $75.72. 

Cash hog closed sharply lower with a fairly light negotiated run.  The latest Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report indicates there is some slowing in contraction, but expansion isn’t underway.  Processors had a couple of big days moving huge runs of hogs this week, but have backed off their procurement efforts at the end of the week.  Demand for US pork on the global market has been strong, but there are ongoing concerns about a slowing global economy. Barrows and gilts at the National Daily Direct closed $4.93 lower with a base range of $80 to $102 and a weighted average of $88.35; the Western Corn Belt closed $5.11 lower with a weighted average of $91.81.  Prices at the Iowa/Minnesota and the Western Corn Belt were not reported due to confidentiality.

Butcher hogs at the Midwest cash markets were steady at $64. At Illinois, slaughter sow prices were steady with moderate demand for moderate offerings at $58 to $70.  Barrows and gilts were steady with moderate demand for moderate offerings at $60 to $69.  Boars ranged from $39 to $41 and $9 to $19. 

Pork values closed lower – down $1.97 at $98.80.  Bellies dropped more than $16.  Ribs, butts, and loins were also lower.  Picnics and hams were higher to sharply higher. Estimated hog slaughter was 476,000 head – down 6,000 on the week and up 3,000 on the year. 

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