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Cattle futures lower on profit taking, drop in Dow

Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures were lower on profit taking and the drop in the Dow Jones Industrial Average, getting ready for the week’s direct business. April was down $.05 at $110.10 and June was $.60 lower at $103.37.

Feeder cattle were down on the same factors as the live pit, with additional pressure from the modestly higher move in corn. March was $.20 lower at $133.52 and April was down $1.27 at $133.77.

Direct cash cattle markets were quiet. This week’s showlist looks mixed when compared to last week, with widespread business not expected until at least Wednesday. Packer inquiry was limited with no bids or asking prices reported. The big question is if trade will be able to stabilize after last week’s surprising sharply lower move. There are plenty of ready numbers available and while exports have slowed down over the last several weeks with a lot of concerns about global demand, domestic demand is showing signs of improving as we get closer to spring and the start of grilling season.

Boxed beef closed firm to higher on moderate demand and light to moderate offerings. Choice was up $.09 at $206.62 and Select was $1.54 higher at $202.70. The estimated cattle slaughter of 124,000 head was unchanged on the week and up 3,000 on the year.

At the Ozarks Regional Stockyards feeder cattle auction in Missouri, compared to the previous week, steer calves weighing less than 500 pounds were $5 to $8 higher, with heavier weights $2 to $3 higher. Heifer calves weighing 450 to 799 pounds were $2 to $3 higher, with other weights not well tested. The USDA says demand was good for a light supply, with receipts down on the week and the year. 52% of the offering were steers and 64% of the run weighed less than 600 pounds. Medium and Large 1 feeder steers weighing 400 to 500 pounds were reported at $170 to $191 and 500 to 600-pound steers brought $154 to $170. Medium and Large 1 feeder heifers weighing 400 to 500 pounds ranged from $140 to $148 and 600 to 700-pound heifers sold at $127 to $138.

Lean hog futures were supported by commercial buying and the firm midday move in pork, but gains were limited by the steady to lower cash during the session and contracts’ premium to the cash index. April was $.75 higher at $63.55 and June was up $1.05 at $78.07.

Cash hogs were mixed, with solid closing negotiated numbers for the major direct markets. Overall, the week’s business has been mostly weak, with moderate to good negotiated movement as buyers try to keep chain speed at a high level. With all the questions about exports, domestic demand continues to be a relatively bright spot. Even as reports of coronavirus slowdown in China, African swine fever is a continued concern, with China’s Ag Ministry reporting the virus in several wild boars. Beijing could start issuing tariff waivers this week. That wouldn’t show up until next week’s USDA export sales report.

Pork closed $.50 lower at $66.05. Loins, butts, ribs, and hams were weak to sharply lower. Picnics were firm and bellies were higher. The estimated hog slaughter of 495,000 head was unchanged on the week and up 20,000 on the year.

National direct barrows and gilts closed $.10 lower at $45 to $52 with a weighted average of $50.12, while Iowa/Southern Minnesota was $.35 higher at $50.14 and the Western Corn Belt was up $.34 at $50.13. Butcher hogs at the Midwest cash markets were steady at $36. Illinois direct sows were steady at $19 to $28 on good demand for moderate to heavy offerings. Barrows and gilts were steady at $27 to $35 on moderate demand and offerings. Boars ranged from $5 to $18.

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