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Cattle futures mixed on spread trade

Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle futures were mostly modestly lower on spread adjustments, profit taking, and end of the week consolidation. December was up $.05 at $119.10 and February was $.05 higher at $124.97, after that, contracts were weak.

Feeder cattle were mostly modestly higher on spread trade and the weak move in corn. Also, boxed beef was mixed at midday, with demand showing signs of slowing after the strong start to the week. November was down $.37 at $146.25 and January was up $.22 at $144.27.

Direct cash cattle markets were mostly quiet. Clean up trade was reported in Nebraska and Iowa at $177 to $183 dressed. Wednesday and Thursday, light to moderate trade was mainly at $115 on the live basis in the south and $182 dressed in the north, generally steady to $1 higher than the previous week. Some live sales were also reported in the north at $115 to $116. Asking prices for what’s left on the showlist were $117 live and $184+ dressed, with bids of $115 to $116 live and $180 to $182 dressed. Weekly beef exports were 25,300 tons, up sharply on the week, with Japan the leading buyer. The Fed Cattle Exchange had a Friday sale, with 1,264 head on offer and 0 sales.

Boxed beef closed lower on light demand for light offerings. Choice was down $.26 at $240.80 and Select was $1.51 lower at $214.33. The estimated cattle slaughter of 117,000 head was steady on the week and down 5,000 on the year.

For the week in Missouri, feeders ranged from $2 lower to $2 higher. The USDA says demand was good for a moderate to heavy supply, even with transportation issues during the early part of the week. Feeder receipts were just over 29,000 head, down on the week, up on the year. 54% of the weekly feeder cattle offering were steers and 54% of the supply weighed less than 600 pounds. Medium and Large 1 feeder steers weighing 500 to 600 pounds sold at $128 to $179.50 and 600 to 700-pound steers brought $128 to $162. Medium and Large 1 feeder heifers weighing 500 to 600 pounds ranged from $118 to $156.50 and Medium and Large 1 to 2 heifers weighing 500 to 600 pounds were reported at $110 to $146.50.

The USDA says alfalfa prices in Iowa were steady to higher, with alfalfa/grass mix and grass mostly steady. Supreme small squares of alfalfa sold at $280 to $340 with large squares at $250 to $330, and premium small squares brought $210 to $330 with large squares at $210 to $260. Premium small squares of alfalfa/grass were reported at $200 to $225 with large squares at $220 to $275 and large rounds at $170 to $210. Premium small squares of grass were pegged at $240 with large squares at $200 to $240.

In Missouri, hay movement was slow, with many producers reporting having supplies on hand, demand was light and prices were steady. Some hay feeding was reported because of the weather. Supreme large rounds of alfalfa sold at $180 to $200 with premium at $160 to $180. Large rounds of good quality mixed grass hay were reported at $80 to $120 and good quality brome grass brought $80 to $120.

For Nebraska, alfalfa, grass hay, and ground and delivered hay were steady on the week. Demand was light to moderate in central and eastern areas, with good demand in the Panhandle from out of state buyers. In eastern and central areas, premium large squares of alfalfa brought $176 to $200, with premium large rounds of prairie hay at $120 to $125 and large rounds of corn stalks at $53.50. 17% protein dehydrated alfalfa pellets sold at $300. In the Platte Valley, good large rounds of alfalfa were pegged at $105 to $110 with a few up to $115 with good large rounds of grass hay at $115 to $120. Ground and delivered alfalfa sold at $140 to $145 with ground and delivered alfalfa corn stalk mix $125 to $135. 17% protein dehydrated alfalfa pellets were reported at $270 to $275 with 15% protein sun-cured pellets at $240. In western Nebraska, supreme large squares of alfalfa came out at $200 to $215 with premium large squares at $180 to $195. Ground and delivered alfalfa sold at $153 to $158 with 15% protein sun-cured pellets at $240.

Lean hog futures were mostly lower on spread trade, contracts’ premium to cash, and demand uncertainties. China was the big buyer of U.S. pork last week, for both 2019 and 2020 delivery, but continues to also buy meat from other sources with phase one of the trade deal still unsigned. December was $.45 higher at $63.20 and February was $1.37 lower at $72.00.

Barrows and gilts were steady to modestly higher, with moderate closing negotiated numbers for the major direct markets. Buyers were trying to get the needed supplies in hand for what was expected to be a large Saturday kill. The USDA projected Saturday’s slaughter at 348,000 head, which would push the weekly total to 2,749,000 head. If there’s a revision, it’ll be out with Monday’s report. The USDA says China bought 5,500 tons of U.S. pork for 2019 and 9,900 tons for 2020 delivery last week. Overall, exports of 19,900 tons were down on the week, but up sharply from the four-week average. Mexico and Canada were also buyers of U.S. pork as ag waits for the passage of the USMCA. Two new cases of African swine fever were reported this week in China.

Pork closed $.54 higher at $87.58. Loins, butts, picnics, ribs, and hams were firm to sharply higher. After a big midday gain, the belly primal closed $3.43 lower. The estimated hog slaughter of 485,000 head was up 1,000 on the week and 20,000 on the year.

National direct barrows and gilts closed $.54 higher at $40 to $44 with a weighted average of $42.73, while Iowa/Southern Minnesota was up $.66 at $42.40 and the Western Corn Belt was $.64 higher at $42.36. Butcher hogs at the Midwest cash markets were steady at $32. Illinois direct sows were $1 lower at $26 to $39 on moderate to good demand for moderate offerings. Barrows and gilts were steady at $25 to $30 with moderate demand and offerings. Boars ranged from $5 to $12.

The USDA says early weaned pigs were $3 higher and all feeder pigs were $5 higher. The composite formula range for early weaned pigs was $33.01 to $52.57 for a weighted average of $45.20, while the cash range was $18 to $40 for an average of $33.71, with the weighted average for all early weaned pigs of $38.74. The composite cash range for feeder pigs was $30 to $54 for a weighted average of $49.56.

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