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Cattle futures mostly higher heading into Friday

At the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, live cattle were mostly higher and feeders were higher supported by the stronger boxed beef prices.  February live cattle closed $.42 higher at $137 and April live cattle closed $.45 higher at $140.97.  March feeder cattle closed $1.05 higher at $166.72 and April feeder cattle closed $1.70 higher at $170.47. 

It was a quiet Thursday for direct cash cattle trade following back-to-back days of light business earlier in the week.  Asking prices for cattle left on showlists are around $138 live in the South and $220 plus dressed in the North.  While the bulk of the week’s business has likely wrapped up, there could be little cleanup business to take place before the end of day Friday.  So far deals have been at $134 to $137, mostly $136 to $137 live, which is generally $2 lower than last week’s weighted averages.  Dressed deals in the North have been at mostly $218, $2 lower than last week’s weighted average basis in Nebraska.  Thursday’s special Fed Cattle Exchange was a non-starter with an offering of 2,350 head of which none sold. 

At the Winter Livestock Auction in Kansas, compared to last week, yearling steers and heifers 550 to 950 pounds were steady to $3 lower.  Steer calves 400 to 550 pounds were $6 to $10 higher.  Heifer calves 400 to 550 pounds were $3 to $5 higher.  The USDA says demand was good on cattle under 550 pounds and moderate on cattle over 550 pounds.  Receipts were up on the week and the year.  Feeder supply included 59% steers and 70% of the offering was over 600 pounds.  Medium and Large 1 feeder steers 705 to 743 pounds brought $161.50 to $165.75 and feeder steers 801 to 847 pounds brought $151 to $158.50.   Medium and Large 1 feeder heifers 550 to 591 pounds brought $151 to $161.50 and feeder heifers 753 to 793 pounds brought $142 to $151.25. 

Boxed beef closed higher on good demand for solid offerings.  Choice closed $2.93 higher at $282.86 and Select closed $1.78 higher at $272.76.  The Choice/Select spread is $10.10. Estimated cattle slaughter is 114,000 head – up 1,000 on the week and down 6,000 on the year. 

Lean hog futures were mixed, adjusting spreads.  Pork values were sharply higher during the session, but the industry remains concerned about the long-term demand picture.  February lean hogs closed $1 lower at $77.85 and April lean hogs closed $.07 lower at $85.32. 

Cash hogs closed higher with a solid negotiated run. Processors were a little more aggressive in their procurement efforts on Thursday.  The industry continues to monitor the availability of market-ready hogs.  Demand for US pork on the global market has been strong, which is expected to continue, however, there is some long-term demand concern which has been putting pressure on prices. Barrows and gilts at the National Daily Direct closed $.26 higher with a base range of $62 to $71 and a weighted average of $66.33; the Iowa/Minnesota had a weighted average of $67.92; the Western Corn Belt had a weighted average of $67.90.  Prices at the Eastern Corn Belt were not reported due to confidentiality. 

Butcher hog prices at the Midwest cash markets are steady at $44. At Illinois, slaughter sow prices were mostly $1 to $2 lower with moderate demand for moderate to heavy offerings.  Barrows and gilts are steady with moderate demand for heavy offerings at $40 to $46.  Boars range from $20 to $25 and $10 to $15. 

Pork values closed sharply higher – up $10.82 at $95.28.  Hams, loins, and picnics were all sharply higher.  Bellies were higher.  Ribs and butts were lower and sharply lower.Estimated hog slaughter is 456,000 head – down 9,000 on the week and down 28,000 on the year.

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