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Cattle futures up, encouraged by steady to higher cash

Chicago Mercantile Exchange live and feeder cattle futures were higher, with feeders in the lead on the mostly lower trade in corn and losses in other feed commodities. Additionally, boxed beef was higher at midday after the recent mixed trend and this week’s direct cash trade has been steady to higher. December live was up $.95 at $152.75 and February was $1.15 higher at $155.40. January feeders were $2.50 higher at $179.97 and March was up $2.25 at $182.50.

Direct cash cattle business was light. Trade reported at mostly $151 to $152 live in Texas and Kansas, $1 to $2 higher than both Wednesday and last week. There were also scattered live sales in Nebraska and Iowa at $154 to $155 live. That moderate business Wednesday was mainly at $150 on the live basis in the south and mostly $242 dressed in the north, both steady with last week’s weighted averages. Asking prices for what’s left on the show list were $152+ live and $244+ dressed with bids at $154 live and $242 dressed. Some clean-up trade could still be possible Friday. The USDA says beef exports were down modestly on the week at 13,400 tons, mainly to Mexico, Japan, and Canada. The USDA’s monthly Cattle on Feed report is out Friday afternoon, with most analysts expecting a decline in placements.

Boxed beef closed firm with heavy movement. Choice was up a penny at $257.10 and Select beef was $.39 higher at $231.74 for a spread of $25.36. The estimated cattle slaughter of 129,000 head was unchanged on the week and up 7,000 on the year.

Midsession at the Winter Livestock feeder cattle sale in Kansas, compared to the previous week, there weren’t enough 600-to-950-pound steers and heifers for an adequate test, with most of the cattle, 58% of the run, weighing less than 600 pounds. The USDA says the offering was outstanding, mostly high-quality vaccinated calves. Receipts were up on the week and the year. 55% of the run were steers. Fancy Medium and Large 1 feeder steers weighing 450 to 460 pounds were reported at $231.50 to $233.50 and more than 80 head of fancy steers weighing 719 pounds brought $198. Fancy Medium and Large 1 feeder heifers weighing 420 to 425 pounds sold at $204.50 to $207.50 and 600-to-635-pound heifers ranged from $165.50 to $173.50.

Lean hog futures were mixed on spread trade, the firm midday pork, and the steady to lower cash during the session. December lean was down $.60 at $84.97 and February was up $.45 at $90.80.

Cash hogs were steady to lower with light closing negotiated sales at the major direct markets. After a couple of days of higher trade, most buyers had the needed near-term numbers in hand, reflected by the near steady negotiated sales totals from the open to the close. The USDA says pork export sales were 25,200 tons, above a week ago, with Mexico buying most of the total, followed by Japan and Canada. There were no reported sales to China.

National direct barrows and gilts closed $2.88 lower with a base price range of $74 to $87.50 for a weighted average of $83.27, with Iowa/Southern Minnesota down $2.65 at $85.08 and the Western Corn Belt $2.84 lower at $84.82.

Butcher hogs at the Midwest cash markets were steady in Dorchester, Wisconsin and lower in Red Oak, Iowa, both at $60. Illinois direct sows were $1 lower at $55 to $67 with light demand for light offerings. Barrows and gilts were steady at $58 to $68 on moderate demand and offerings. Boars ranged from $9 to $35.

Pork closed $1 lower at $92.63. Loins, picnics, ribs, and bellies were lower, with butts firm and hams sharply higher. The estimated hog slaughter of 493,000 head was up 3,000 on the week and 14,000 on the year. Wednesday’s slaughter was revised to 488,000 head, 5,000 less than the initial projection.

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