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Cattle futures sharply higher again, supported by strong wholesale values

At the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, live cattle futures ended the day sharply higher on support from the strength in boxed beef values and this week’s mostly stronger cash trade.  Feeder cattle futures were higher on the same factors as the live bit.  Both are optimistic that the industry will start to see some of the pressure alleviate on the supply chain as processing numbers begin to eek higher.  June live cattle closed $4.50 higher at $93.97 and August live cattle closed $4.50 higher at $99.95.  May feeder cattle closed $6.17 higher at $130.27 and August feeder cattle closed $5.40 higher at $138.15. 

Direct cash cattle trade activity for Thursday was quiet following Wednesday’s light to moderate business.  Asking prices for cattle that remain on showlists are around $110 plus live in the South, with zero bids renewed.  The North has been silent with both bids and asking prices few and far between. 

At the Huss Livestock Market in Nebraska, compared to two weeks ago steers over 700 pounds sold $2 to $4 higher except 750-pound steers sold $10 higher.  Heifers 550 to 700 pounds were $8 higher, over 700 pounds sold $2 to $4 higher.  The USDA says demand was moderate at the start and had improved by midday.  Receipts were up on the week and the year.  Feeder supply included 53 percent steers and 83 percent of the offering was over 600 pounds.  Medium and Large 1 feeder steers 650 to 698 pounds brought $143 to $152 and feeder steers 904 to 947 pounds brought $110.85 to $118.35.  Medium and Large 1 feeder heifers 607 to 643 pounds brought $128 to $138 and feeder heifers 703 to 747 pounds brought $118.50 to $127.85. 

Boxed beef closed sharply higher on good demand for moderate to heavy offerings.  Choice closed $9.36 higher at $458.54 and Select closed $16.61 higher at $448.57.  The Choice/Select spread is $9.97.   Estimated cattle slaughter is 86,000 head – up 6,000 on the week, but still 32,000 below year-ago levels.

Lean hog futures ended the day mostly lower on profit-taking and a weak export sales report.  May lean hogs closed $.70 higher at $68.80 and June lean hogs closed $1.67 lower at $63.90. 

Cash hogs ended the day with moderate negotiated purchases.  Packers moved a few more hogs today as we’re starting to see more processing facilities coming online.  The industry is anxious to alleviate the pressure on the supply chain from the bottleneck caused by processing slowdowns and shutdowns as the heavy supplies of market-ready barrows and gilts are backing up at the producer level.  Secretary Perdue told Brownfield in an interview on Thursday he expects plants to be back up and running within the next ten days, however, it will likely be at reduced capacity.  This weeks’ export sale report did show a decline on the week, but China was still the top purchaser of US pork. Barrows and gilts at the National Daily Direct had no comparison but a base range of $35.96 to $36 for a weighted average of $36.62; the Iowa/Minnesota closed with a weighted average of $37.69; the Western Corn Belt is $37.66.  The Eastern Corn Belt was not reported due to confidentiality. 

Butcher hogs are steady in Dorchester, Wisconsin at $24. 

At Illinois, slaughter sow prices were weak with light to moderate demand for moderate offerings at $7 to $20.  Barrows and gilts were weak at $10 to $15 with light demand for heavy offerings.  Boars brought $1 to $5.

Pork values closed higher – up $1.68 at $116.74.  Butts, ribs, bellies, picnics, loins were all higher to sharply higher.  Hams were sharply lower.  Estimated hog slaughter is 320,000 head – up 37,000 on the week, but still 153,000 head below last year. 

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