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Cattle futures up on broader market strength

Chicago Mercantile Exchange live and feeder cattle futures were higher, supported by technical buying and strength in the broader market, getting ready for widespread direct business and the upcoming USDA Cattle on Feed report. December live was up $.92 at $175.85 and February was $1.62 higher at $176.87. January feeders were $.70 higher at $229 and March was up $1.30 at $231.37.

Direct cash cattle markets remained at a standstill. Asking prices were $180 to $183 on the live basis. Bids were not defined with widespread business not expected until the back half of the week, possibly Thursday or Friday. The show list is mixed this week, lower in Kansas and Texas, higher in Nebraska and Colorado. There was extremely light trade reported in Iowa at $178 live, but not nearly enough to establish a trend. The USDA’s Cattle on Feed report is out Friday at 3 Eastern/2 Central, with the spotlight once again falling onto placements into U.S. feedlots.

Boxed beef closed lower with good movement. Choice was down $2.18 at $295.67 and Select beef was $1.36 lower at $267.88 for a spread of $27.79. The estimated cattle slaughter of 126,000 head was up 1,000 on the week, but down 3,000 on the year.

At the Farmers and Ranchers Livestock Commission special feeder cattle sale in Kansas, there was no reported trend, but the USDA says there was a nice offering of light calves. Most of those were unweaned, but that did not bring a noticeable discount. The USDA says demand was moderate with receipts down on the week and the year. 59% of the offering were steers and 60% of the run weighed less than 600 pounds. Medium and Large unweaned feeder steers weighing 500 to 575 pounds were reported at $256 to $283 and weaned 610-to-690-pound steers sold at $228.50 to $244. Medium and Large 1 unweaned feeder heifers weighing 500 to 600 pounds ranged from $224 to $249 and unweaned 600-to-680-pound heifers brought $204 to $223.

Lean hog futures were lower, pressured by profit taking and the recent inconsistency in the wholesale market. That inconsistency in wholesale pork and the questions about domestic and export demand allowed hogs to ignore the higher midday move in pork. December was down $1.05 at $72.30 and February was $1.10 lower at $75.92.

Cash hogs were steady to lower with light closing negotiated numbers at the major direct markets. After a very quiet start to the day, buyers were able to use those ample ready numbers for leverage to secure the needed near-term supplies. Domestic demand remains inconsistent and while export demand has been solid, there are questions about how long that can be sustained. Higher average hog weights are also generally a bearish factor, putting more tonnage on the market.

National direct barrows and gilts closed $2.28 lower with a base price range of $60 to $66 for a weighted average of $63.81. Iowa/Southern Minnesota had a weighted average of $64.18 and the Western Corn Belt averaged $63.75. The Eastern Corn Belt’s five-day rolling average is $69.79. Butcher hogs at the Dorchester, Wisconsin market were steady at $60. Illinois direct sows were steady at $43 to $56 on moderate demand for moderate to heavy offerings. Barrows and gilts were steady at $40 to $50 with moderate demand for moderate offerings. Boars ranged from $5 to $21.

Pork closed $.83 higher at $87.60. Loins, butts, picnics, and hams were firm to sharply higher, while bellies were lower. The estimated hog slaughter of 484,000 head was down 5,000 on the week and unchanged on the year. Monday’s slaughter was revised to 470,000 head, 18,000 less than the initial projection.

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