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Cattle futures higher, watching direct trade develop

Chicago Mercantile Exchange live and feeder cattle were higher, watching direct cash cattle business develop. December live was up $.52 at $151.80 and February was $1.20 higher at $154.25. January feeders were up $.45 at $177.47 and March was $.45 higher at $180.25.

Direct cash cattle business was underway by late Wednesday afternoon. Trade was reported at $150 live in Kansas and Texas, steady with last week, with live sales in Nebraska at $153. There was lighter dressed business in the north at $242, also steady with last week’s weighted average. Asking prices late Wednesday were $151 to $152 live and $245+ dressed, with bids at $153 live in Colorado. More trade is likely Thursday, especially on the dressed basis. Wednesday at the Fed Cattle Exchange, 887 head were on offer, 0 sold as bids failed to meet reserve prices. The USDA’s monthly Cattle on Feed report is out Friday afternoon and the October placements category will be watched closely.

Boxed beef closed lower with heavy movement. Choice was down $1.27 at $257.09 and Select beef was $.41 lower at $231.35, putting the spread at $25.74. The estimated cattle slaughter of 129,000 head was unchanged on the week and up 7,000 on the year.

At the Interstate Regional Stockyards feeder cattle sale in Missouri, compared to the previous week, steers weighing less than 650 pounds were $2 to $5 lower with steers weighing more than 650 pounds mostly steady. Feeder heifers weighing less than 600 pounds were $2 to $5 higher and heifers weighing more than 600 pounds were steady to $2 lower. The USDA says the supply was moderate with a different make-up than the last test. Receipts were down on the week, up on the year. 60% of the feeder offering were steers and 54% of the run weighed less than 600 pounds. Medium and Large 1 feeder steers weighing 500 to 600 pounds sold at $183 to $189 and 600-to-700-pound steers ranged from $172 to $183. Medium and Large 1 feeder heifers weighing 500 to 600 pounds brought $160 to $179 and 600 to 700 pound heifers, including some value-added, were reported at $160 to $168.

Lean hog futures were mixed, mostly modestly higher, with cash mostly steady to higher during the session. The trade was also getting ready for Thursday’s USDA export sales report, curious about demand from China. December was up $.25 at $85.57 and February was $.27 higher at $90.35.

Cash hogs were mostly steady to higher with good closing negotiated sales for the major direct markets. For the most part, buyers followed through on Tuesday, trying to move the needed near-term numbers. There was no apparent impact on movement from snow and cold temperatures in much of the Midwest. The industry has an eye on slower trade next week because of Thanksgiving and is monitoring holiday demand signals. Week-to-week, the USDA says average live weights were lighter nationally and in the Eastern Corn Belt, heavier in Iowa/Southern Minnesota and the Western Corn Belt. Overall, average live weights are below a year ago.

National direct barrows and gilts closed $.61 higher with a base price range of $74 to $91 for a weighted average of $86.15, with Iowa/Southern Minnesota up $.85 at $87.73 and the Western Corn Belt $1.03 higher at $87.66.

Butcher hogs at the Midwest cash markets were steady at $60. Illinois direct sows were $3 lower at $56 to $68 with light demand for light to moderate offerings. Barrows and gilts were steady at $58 to $68 on moderate demand and offerings. Boars range from $9 to $35.

Pork closed $2.07 lower at $93.63. Loins, hams, and bellies were sharply lower, with butts, picnics, and ribs sharply higher. The estimated hog slaughter of 493,000 head was up 17,000 on the week and 13,000 on the year. Tuesday’s slaughter was revised to 495,000 head, 5,000 more than the initial estimate.

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