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Cattle, hog futures move higher

At the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, live and feeder cattle were higher on follow-through buying, shrugging off weaker cash business and lower boxed beef.  December live cattle closed $.25 higher at $171.90 and February lives closed $.65 higher at $173.47.  January feeders closed $1.15 higher at $222.20 and March feeders closed $.77 higher at $224.27. 

There was another light round of direct cattle business that developed Wednesday afternoon.  Dressed deals in Nebraska were at $275, that’s about $4 below the previous week’s weighted averages.  Live business in both the North and the South was at $175, fully steady with the week’s previous business and $1 to $2 below the prior week’s weighted averages. 

At the McAlester Union Livestock Auction in Oklahoma, steer calves were $2 to $4 higher and heifer calves were $2 to $5 lower.  The USDA says the quality was average.  Demand was moderate to good.  Receipts were down on the year.  Feeder supply included 42% heifers and just 23% of the offering was over 600 pounds.  Medium and Large 1 feeder steers 505 to 547 pounds brought $277 to $292 and feeder steers 600 to 640 pounds brought $243 to $259.  Medium and Large 1 feeder heifers 451 to 498 pounds brought $238 to $252 and feeder heifers 505 to 548 pounds brought $228 to $243.

Boxed beef closed lower on light demand for solid offerings.  Choice was $1.14 lower at $297.03 and Select closed $2.26 lower at $264.09.  The Choice/Select spread is $32.94.  Estimated cattle slaughter was 125,000 head – down 2,000 on the week and down 1,000 on the year. 

Lean hog futures ended the day higher, supported by firm pork values and the steady to higher cash business during the session.  December lean hogs closed $.05 higher at $68.97 and February lean hogs closed $1.07 higher at $70.10. 

Cash hogs closed lower with a solid negotiated run.   The inconsistency in the cash hog market continues.  In addition to ample supplies of market-ready hogs, weights are up, which adds to productivity.  Processors have the leverage, allowing them to do move needed numbers without having to get aggressive in their procurement efforts.  Demand for US pork has been relatively strong on the global market, which is good, but there are long-term concerns.  China recently granted export approval for additional pork facilities, which could help bolster demand in the future. Barrows and gilts at the National Daily Direct closed $.37 lower with a base range of $52 to $62 and a weighted average of $58.06; the Iowa/Minnesota closed $.71 lower with a weighted average of $57.47; the Western Corn Belt closed $.83 lower with a weighted average of $57.15; no comparisons at the Eastern Corn Belt but a weighted average of $61.03.

Butcher hog prices at the Midwest cash markets are steady at $55. At Illinois, slaughter sow prices were steady with moderate demand for heavy offerings at $43 to $56.  Barrows and gilts were steady with moderate demand for moderate offerings at $35 to $45.  Boars ranged from $18 to $21 and $5 to $10. 

Pork values closed lower – down $.83 at $83.97.  Bellies were sharply lower.  Ribs and butts were also lower.  Loins, picnics, and hams were all higher. Estimated hog slaughter was 484,000 head – up 34,000 on the week and down 6,000 on the year.

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