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Cattle Current Weekly Highlights—Week ending Aug. 7, 2020

Calves and feeder cattle continued to trend higher last week, helped along by stronger cash fed cattle prices.

Nationwide, steers and heifers sold steady to $3/cwt. higher, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).

“Every year, producers try to get long or short yearling cattle marketed before the Labor Day holiday and this year has been no exception,” say AMS analysts. “The first full week in August brought around 11% more cattle to the sale barns than a year ago.” 

Except for 15¢ higher in Nov, Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 98¢ lower week to week on Friday (25¢ to $1.95 lower).

“Extremely unique market dynamics are driving the cattle market to price levels that may not have been imaginable just a few weeks ago,” says Andrew P. Griffith, agricultural economist at the University of Tennessee, in his weekly market comments. “The feeder cattle market is being driven by expectations for higher finished cattle prices. The February live cattle contract price increased $7 since July 1, which would be nearly a $100 per head increase in value for a 1,400 lb. animal. The increase in the live cattle contract has pushed the August feeder cattle contract $10 higher, which would be an $80 per head value increase.”

The CME Feeder Cattle Index was $3.34 higher week to week on Thursday at $141.92.

Griffith notes that cattle feeders must expect fed cattle prices to continue increasing, given the current buy-sell margin of locking in a price currently and how much more they’re willing to pay for feeder cattle.

At the same time, AMS analysts point out deepening drought in some parts of the country is beginning to force some management and marketing decisions.

For the week of Aug. 4, the U.S. Drought Monitor classified 54.01% of the continental United States from abnormally dry to extreme drought. That’s the fourth consecutive week that more than half of the nation was enduring designated dryness or drought conditions, according to AMS.

“One region of note would be in Wyoming and creeping into Northwest Nebraska. Some producers in those areas are contemplating early weaning of calves,” AMS analysts explain. 

The most recent USDA Crop Progress report pegged 30% of the nation’s pasture and range condition as Poor or Very Poor, which was 17% more than the same time last year.

Cash Fed Cattle Trade Higher

Negotiated cash fed cattle trade for the week was mainly $3 higher through Friday afternoon at $103/cwt. on a live basis and at $163 in the beef.

Through Thursday, the five-area direct weighted average steer price was $101.28 on a live basis, which was $2.79 higher than the previous week. The average dressed steer price was $163.19, which was $3.17 higher than the prior week. Compared to the same time last year, though, those prices were $12.83 less and $19.38 less, respectively.

According to AMS, slaughter cattle numbers remain tighter in the Northern Plains, while supplies continue to outpace packing capacity in the Southern Plains.

Griffith points out it has been a year since the Tyson packing plant fire in Kansas roiled markets.

“The market has essentially been in a funk for 52 weeks, due to the fire and coronavirus. The market appears to be trying to shake all the tough times over the last year, but there are more rivers to forge before anyone is comfortable,” Griffith says.

Except for 47¢ and 57¢ higher in Apr and away Dec, Live Cattle futures closed an average of 55¢ lower week to week on Friday (2¢ to $1.47 lower).

“Sideways action at the CME could be viewed as a friendly,” say AMS analysts. The largest single-day move this week on any of the six front Cattle contracts was $1.33 lower.” 

Wholesale Values Bump Higher

Wholesale beef prices continued to edge higher from the recent bottom.

Choice boxed beef cutout value was $2.21 higher week to week on Friday at $205.47/cwt. Select was $2.86 higher at $192.75.

Estimated cattle slaughter for the week ending Aug. 8 was 633,000 head, which would be 5,000 head fewer than the previous week and 14,000 head fewer than the same week last year.

Year to date, total cattle slaughter was 1.04 million less (-5.2%) than the same period last year at 19.05 million head.

Estimated beef production for the week was 527.2 million lbs., which was 3.1 million lbs. less than the previous week, but 5.6 million lbs. more than the prior year.

Year to date, estimated beef production of 15.74 billion lbs. is 405 million lbs. less (-2.5%) than last year.

“Beef supply conditions have stabilized, albeit at higher levels of production year over year in the second half of 2020. Beef demand will be critical in determining overall beef prices and, subsequently, cattle prices going forward,” says Derrell Peel, Extension livestock marketing specialist at Oklahoma State University, in his weekly market comments. 

The advance estimate for U.S. real GDP in the second quarter was a staggering -32.9%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The nation’s unemployment rate in July was 10.2%.

“In the short run, willingness to purchase beef will depend on the relative prices of other products, particularly substitute products that may be consumed in place of a particular product,” Peel says. “For specific beef products, this is a complicated consideration, including other proteins such as pork and poultry, as well as the multitude of other beef products that may be chosen by consumers. In periods of low income, beef consumers may trade down from high cost beef products to lower valued products. Food service demand, which remains diminished, will emphasize this impact going forward.”

Friday to Friday Change

 

Weekly Auction Receipts

 

Aug. 7 Auction Direct

Video/net

Total
 

171,800

(+35,700)

66,400

(+17,900)

261,400

(+261,000)

499,600

(+314,600)

 

 

CME Feeder Index

CME Feeder Index* Aug. 6 Change
  $141.92 +  $3.34

*Thursday-to Thursday for CME Feeder Index

 

Cash Stocker and Feeder

North Central

Steers-Cash Aug. 7 Change
600-700 lbs. $156.39 +  $2.81
700-800 lbs. $146.59 +  $1.36
800-900 lbs. $144.49 +  $3.63

 

South Central

Steers-Cash Aug. 7 Change
500-600 lbs. $158.38 + $4.16
600-700 lbs. $149.82 + $1.72
700-800 lbs. $142.57 + $2.37

 

Southeast

Steers-Cash Aug. 7 Change
400-500 lbs. $149.64 + $0.82
500-600 lbs. $40.90 + $1.00
600-700 lbs. $133.11 –  $1.15

(AMS National Weekly Feeder & Stocker Cattle Summary)

 

Wholesale Beef Value

Boxed Beef  (p.m.) Aug. 7 ($/cwt) Change
Choice $205.47 + $2.21
Select $192.75 + $2.86
Ch-Se Spread $12.72 –  $0.65

 

Futures

Feeder Cattle  Aug. 7 Change
Aug $142.725 –  $1.950
Sep $145.125 –  $1.100
Oct $146.400 –  $0.250
Nov $146.975 + $0.150
Jan ’21 $144.200 –  $0.400
Mar $142.725 –  $0.625
Apr $143.350 –  $1.225
May $143.725 –  $1.325

 

Live Cattle   Aug. 7 Change
Aug $102.800 –  $0.025
Oct $106.450 –  $1.425
Dec $110.075 –  $1.475
Feb ’21 $113.800 –  $0.750
Apr $116.325 + $0.475
Jun $109.800 –  $0.150
Aug $108.125 –  $0.575
Oct $110.450 –  $0.125
Dec $114.200 + $0.575

 

Corn  Aug. 7 Change
Sep $3.076 – $0.084
Dec $3.206 – $0.064
Mar ’21 $3.326 – $0.056
May $3.412 – $0.048
Jly $3.476 – $0.046
Sep $3.526 – $0.028

 

Oil CME-WTI Aug. 7 Change
Sep $41.22 + $0.95
Oct $41.49 + $0.92
Nov $41.86 + $0.95
Dec $42.19 + $0.97
Jan ’21 $42.48 + $0.99
Feb $42.76 + $1.01

 

Equities

Equity Indexes Aug. 7 Change
Dow Industrial Average  27433.48 +1005.16
NASDAQ  10745.28 +  265.70
S&P 500   3271.12 +     80.16
Dollar (DXY)       93.46 –        0.07
Cattle Current Weekly Highlights—Week ending Aug. 7, 2020 2020-08-08T14:40:27-05:00

Cattle Current Podcast—Aug. 7, 2020

Negotiated cash fed cattle trade had yet to fully develop through Thursday afternoon, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service, but early prices are mostly $3 higher, with established trade in the Southern Plains at mostly $100/cwt. Although too few to trend, there were some early trades in Nebraska ($163 dressed) and in the western Corn Belt at $103 on a live basis and at $163 in the beef.

Cattle futures were mixed but mostly softer. The latest U.S. Export sales report offered no support. Net beef export sales for the week ending July 30 were down 55% from the previous week and down 35% percent from the prior four-week average, according to USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. June exports were down hard (see below).

Except for 32¢ and 42¢ higher on either end of the board, Live Cattle futures closed an average of 45¢ lower.

Except for 15¢ lower in Sep, Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 87¢ lower (52¢ to $1.32 lower).

Choice boxed beef cutout value was $1.09 higher Thursday afternoon at $204.66/cwt. Select was $1.19 higher at $192.01.

The average dressed steer weight for the week ending July 25 was 903 lbs., which was 4 lbs. heavier than the previous week and 34 lbs. heavier than the same week a year earlier, according to USDA’s Actual Slaughter Under Federal Inspection report. The average dressed heifer weight of 829 lbs. was the same as the previous week but 29 lbs. heavier than the previous year.

Total cattle slaughter for the week of 639,971 head was 11,692 head fewer than the same week last year, but beef production of 533.7 million lbs. was 7.8 million lbs. more.

Corn futures closed unchanged to fractionally mixed. 

Soybean futures closed mostly fractionally lower to 1¢ lower.

Cattle Current Podcast—Aug. 7, 2020 2020-08-06T18:01:35-05:00

Cattle Current Daily—Aug. 7, 2020

Negotiated cash fed cattle trade had yet to fully develop through Thursday afternoon, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service, but early prices are mostly $3 higher, with established trade in the Southern Plains at mostly $100/cwt. Although too few to trend, there were some early trades in Nebraska ($163 dressed) and in the western Corn Belt at $103 on a live basis and at $163 in the beef.

Cattle futures were mixed but mostly softer. The latest U.S. Export sales report offered no support. Net beef export sales for the week ending July 30 were down 55% from the previous week and down 35% percent from the prior four-week average, according to USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service. June exports were down hard (see below).

Except for 32¢ and 42¢ higher on either end of the board, Live Cattle futures closed an average of 45¢ lower.

Except for 15¢ lower in Sep, Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 87¢ lower (52¢ to $1.32 lower).

Choice boxed beef cutout value was $1.09 higher Thursday afternoon at $204.66/cwt. Select was $1.19 higher at $192.01.

The average dressed steer weight for the week ending July 25 was 903 lbs., which was 4 lbs. heavier than the previous week and 34 lbs. heavier than the same week a year earlier, according to USDA’s Actual Slaughter Under Federal Inspection report. The average dressed heifer weight of 829 lbs. was the same as the previous week but 29 lbs. heavier than the previous year.

Total cattle slaughter for the week of 639,971 head was 11,692 head fewer than the same week last year, but beef production of 533.7 million lbs. was 7.8 million lbs. more.

Corn futures closed unchanged to fractionally mixed. 

Soybean futures closed mostly fractionally lower to 1¢ lower.

******************************

Major U.S. financial indices closed higher Thursday, led by tech stocks and supported by fewer weekly initial jobless claims than anticipated.

Initial claims for the week of Aug. 1 were 249,000 fewer than the prior week at 1.19 million, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 185 points higher. The S&P 500 closed 21 points higher. The NASDAQ closed 109 points higher.

*******************************

Supply disruptions, restrictions on foodservice and weakening economies in major import markets helped confound U.S. beef exports in June, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).

June beef exports were close to the May lows, down 33% from a year ago to 79,013 metric tons (mt), with value falling 32% to $492.3 million. Exports were below year-ago levels to most markets but trended higher to Canada, China and South Africa. For January through June, beef exports fell 9% below last year’s pace in volume (591,609 mt) and were 10% lower in value ($3.63 billion).

Beef export value per head of fed slaughter averaged $219.53 in June, down 32% year over year. The first-half average was $300.43 per head, down 4%.

“We expected that the interruptions in red meat production would continue to weigh on June exports, but anticipated more of a rebound from the low May totals, particularly for beef,” says USMEF President and CEO Dan Halstrom. “But, it takes time for the entire chain to adjust to supply shocks, and thus it was another difficult month for exports. However, weekly U.S. export data suggest an upward trend in demand in most markets, and with production recovering, the U.S. has regained its supply advantage. So, we expect beef and pork exports to regain momentum in the second half of the year.”

June pork exports totaled 207,181 mt, which were 3% less than a year ago, while export value fell 9% to $516.3 million. Exports continued to trend higher than a year ago to China/Hong Kong, but were the lowest since October.

Cattle Current Daily—Aug. 7, 2020 2020-08-06T17:54:43-05:00

Cattle Current Podcast—Aug. 6, 2020

There was no negotiated cash fed cattle trade summary available from USDA at press time Wednesday, but indications continued to point to higher prices for the week.

For instance, Choice steers and heifers sold $3.50 to $3.75 higher at the fat auction in Tama, Iowa. There were 127 head of Choice 2-4 steers weighing an average of 1,382 lbs. and bringing an average of $104.32/cwt.

Cattle feeders offered 1,474 head in the weekly Fed Cattle Exchange Auction—all from the Southern Plains. Of those, 1,400 head sold: 960 head for delivery of 1-9 days at an average weighted price of $99.95/cwt.; 440 head for delivery at 1-17 days for a weighted average price of $100.

Except for 2¢ and 5¢ lower in two contracts, Live Cattle futures closed an average of 34¢ higher.

Except for 15¢ lower in Sep, Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 59¢ higher.

Choice boxed beef cutout value was 58¢ lower Wednesday morning at $203.66/cwt. Select was 56¢ higher at $191.01.

Corn futures closed 1¢ to 3¢ higher. 

Soybean futures closed 1¢ to 3¢ lower through Mar ’21 and then mostly 1¢ higher.

Cattle Current Podcast—Aug. 6, 2020 2020-08-05T17:58:05-05:00

Cattle Current Daily—Aug. 6, 2020

There was no negotiated cash fed cattle trade summary available from USDA at press time Wednesday, but indications continued to point to higher prices for the week.

For instance, Choice steers and heifers sold $3.50 to $3.75 higher at the fat auction in Tama, Iowa. There were 127 head of Choice 2-4 steers weighing an average of 1,382 lbs. and bringing an average of $104.32/cwt.

Cattle feeders offered 1,474 head in the weekly Fed Cattle Exchange Auction—all from the Southern Plains. Of those, 1,400 head sold: 960 head for delivery of 1-9 days at an average weighted price of $99.95/cwt.; 440 head for delivery at 1-17 days for a weighted average price of $100.

Except for 2¢ and 5¢ lower in two contracts, Live Cattle futures closed an average of 34¢ higher.

Except for 15¢ lower in Sep, Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 59¢ higher.

Choice boxed beef cutout value was 58¢ lower Wednesday morning at $203.66/cwt. Select was 56¢ higher at $191.01.

Corn futures closed 1¢ to 3¢ higher. 

Soybean futures closed 1¢ to 3¢ lower through Mar ’21 and then mostly 1¢ higher.

The five-area direct weighted monthly average fed steer price in July was $96.57/cwt. on a live basis, which was $7.25 less than in June and $15.63 less than the previous July. The average dressed steer price of $157.69 was $8 less than the previous month and $20.54 less than the prior year.

The average monthly fed heifer price of $96.22 was $9.24 less than in June and $15.88 less than in July of last year. The average heifer price in the beef was $157.32, which was $8.70 less month to month and $20.91 less year over year.

******************************

Major U.S. financial indices closed higher Wednesday, amid mixed economic news. Support included more promise for another COVID-19 vaccine candidate and ongoing Congressional wrestling for more pandemic aid. Pressure included a more pessimistic labor outlook.

Private sector employment increased by 167,000 jobs from June to July according to the closely watched ADP National Employment Report®.  That was significantly less than traders expected.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 373 points higher. The S&P 500 closed 21 points higher. The NASDAQ closed 57 points higher.

*******************************

Heading into Labor Day–the last grilling holiday of the summer–David Anderson, Extension livestock economist at Texas A&M University says the recent surge in orders suggests retailers are making a push to feature beef.

“Big beef featuring will be welcome,” Anderson says, in the latest issue of In the Cattle Markets. “Slowly working off the backlog (fed cattle) and moving more beef into retail is slowly pulling cattle prices higher. The weekly Choice beef cutout hit its low for the year, so far, at $201.24/cwt. for the week ending July 18. Since then, it has clawed back to $202.34. But, as with fed cattle, large beef supplies are keeping the pressure on the wholesale market.”

Although the aforementioned backlog continues, Anderson notes fed cattle slaughter is almost equal to year-ago levels. Specifically, he says fed cattle slaughter for June and July, combined, was 99.9% of a year earlier. He adds that along with increased cow slaughter and heavier carcass weights beef production for the last eight weeks was more than the same time period last year.

“In coming weeks, watch for progress on the fed cattle slaughter front, more featuring for Labor Day and increasing beef exports as prices decline. All of these should act to boost fed cattle prices going into late summer,” Anderson says.

Cattle Current Daily—Aug. 6, 2020 2020-08-05T17:55:11-05:00

Cattle Current Podcast—Aug. 5, 2020

Cattle futures closed mostly narrowly lower on Tuesday, awaiting cash direction. Early indications are cash fed cattle have some room to grow this week.

Live Cattle futures closed an average of 35¢ lower.

Except for an average of 14¢ higher in two mid-board contracts, Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 22¢ lower.

Choice boxed beef cutout value was 42¢ lower Tuesday afternoon at $204.24/cwt. Select was 5¢ higher at $190.45.

Positive crop conditions and weather weighed on grain futures, Tuesday.

Corn futures closed 6¢ to 9¢ lower through Jly ’21 and then mostly 1¢ lower.

Soybean futures closed 11¢ to 14¢ lower through Mar ’21 and then 4¢ to 9¢ lower.

Cattle Current Podcast—Aug. 5, 2020 2020-08-04T18:04:08-05:00

Cattle Current Daily—Aug. 5, 2020

Cattle futures closed mostly narrowly lower on Tuesday, awaiting cash direction. Early indications are cash fed cattle have some room to grow this week.

Live Cattle futures closed an average of 35¢ lower.

Except for an average of 14¢ higher in two mid-board contracts, Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 22¢ lower.

Choice boxed beef cutout value was 42¢ lower Tuesday afternoon at $204.24/cwt. Select was 5¢ higher at $190.45.

Positive crop conditions and weather weighed on grain futures, Tuesday.

Corn futures closed 6¢ to 9¢ lower through Jly ’21 and then mostly 1¢ lower.

Soybean futures closed 11¢ to 14¢ lower through Mar ’21 and then 4¢ to 9¢ lower

******************************

Major U.S. financial indices closed higher Tuesday, with increasing hopes of Congress agreeing to additional coronavirus relief.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 164 points higher. The S&P 500 closed 11 points higher. The NASDAQ closed 38 points higher.

*******************************

Month-to-month farmer sentiment was virtually unchanged in July, according to the Purdue University/CME Group Ag Economy Barometer. The index increased 1 point to a reading of 118, which was 30% lower than in February before the pandemic began.

Producers’ perspective on current versus future conditions shifted, though. The Index of Current Conditions rose 12 points from June to a reading of 111, and the Index of Future Expectations fell 5 points to a reading of 121.

“Although overall farmer sentiment in July did not change much compared to June, sentiment was still much weaker than in February before the impact of coronavirus hit,” says James Mintert, the barometer’s principal investigator and director of Purdue University’s Center for Commercial Agriculture. “In July, farmers indicated they were a bit less concerned about the current economic situation on their farms than earlier this spring, but they are less optimistic about the future, perhaps as a result of the recent resurgence in COVID-19 cases. Still, two-thirds of producers responding to this month’s survey said they believe Congress should provide additional economic assistance to farmers in 2020 to help offset the pandemic’s impact on agriculture.”

Among survey highlights:

**56% of producers said they plan to reduce their farm machinery purchases compared with a year ago; while 38% said they plan to keep machinery purchases about the same.

**16% of respondents expect farmland values to rise over the next 12 months compared with 10% in June. Looking ahead, however, 48% said they expect values to rise over the next five years compared with 55% in the previous survey.

**More than half of survey respondents said they were less likely to attend in-person educational events in 2020, as a result of COVID-19 concerns. When asked what their top information source would be in lieu of attending in-person events, 36% chose farm magazines, 19% chose online webinars, 17% chose farm radio and 17% chose websites.

The Ag Economy Barometer, based on responses from 400 U.S. agricultural producers, was conducted July 20-24.

Cattle Current Daily—Aug. 5, 2020 2020-08-04T18:02:07-05:00

Cattle Current Podcast—Aug. 4, 2020

Last week’s five-area direct weighted average steer price was $98.66/cwt. on a live basis, which was $1.42 more than the previous week. The average dressed steer price was $160.03, which was $1.93 more than the prior week.

Cattle futures continued to maintain and extend recent gains Monday, except for the back months of Feeder Cattle. Support includes cash strength, thoughts of increased food service demand when schools resume this fall and the highest level of open interest since the middle of March.

Live Cattle futures closed an average of 42¢ higher.

Feeder Cattle futures closed mixed, from an average of 47¢ higher across the front half of the board to an average of 65¢ lower across the back half.

Choice boxed beef cutout value was $1.40 higher Monday afternoon at $204.66/cwt. Select was 51¢ higher at $190.40.

Corn futures closed 1¢ to 2¢ higher through Jly ’21 and then mostly fractionally higher.

Soybean futures closed 1¢ to 3¢ higher.

Cattle Current Podcast—Aug. 4, 2020 2020-08-03T18:12:31-05:00

Cattle Current Daily—Aug. 4, 2020

Last week’s five-area direct weighted average steer price was $98.66/cwt. on a live basis, which was $1.42 more than the previous week. The average dressed steer price was $160.03, which was $1.93 more than the prior week.

Cattle futures continued to maintain and extend recent gains Monday, except for the back months of Feeder Cattle. Support includes cash strength, thoughts of increased food service demand when schools resume this fall and the highest level of open interest since the middle of March.

Live Cattle futures closed an average of 42¢ higher.

Feeder Cattle futures closed mixed, from an average of 47¢ higher across the front half of the board to an average of 65¢ lower across the back half.

Choice boxed beef cutout value was $1.40 higher Monday afternoon at $204.66/cwt. Select was 51¢ higher at $190.40.

Corn futures closed 1¢ to 2¢ higher through Jly ’21 and then mostly fractionally higher.

Soybean futures closed 1¢ to 3¢ higher.

******************************

Major U.S. financial indices closed higher Monday, fueled by the continued rally in big tech stocks, as well as positive manufacturing news.

Economic activity in the manufacturing sector grew in July, with the overall economy notching a third consecutive month of growth, say the nation’s supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business®.

Specifically, the July PMI® rose 1.6 percentage points month to month in July to 54.2%. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 236 points higher. The S&P 500 closed 23 points higher. The NASDAQ closed 157 points higher.

*******************************

“Beef supply conditions have stabilized, albeit at higher levels of production year over year in the second half of 2020. Beef demand will be critical in determining overall beef prices and, subsequently, cattle prices going forward,” says Derrell Peel, Extension livestock marketing specialist at Oklahoma State University, in his weekly market comments. 

As for any product, Peel explains beef demand is generally a function of consumers’ willingness and ability to purchase specific quantities of the product at various price levels.

Consumer ability to purchase a product is related to the level of consumers’ discretionary income. Generally, Peel says macroeconomic conditions, including overall GDP levels, along with unemployment, are indicative of income levels. 

The advance estimate for U.S. real GDP in the second quarter was a staggering -32.9%, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. The nation’s unemployment rate in June was 11.1%.

“This highlights questions about the impact of the pandemic on beef demand in the first half of the year and, more importantly, beef demand for the remainder of the year,” Peel says.

Ability aside, Peel explains consumer willingness to purchase beef has to do with underlying preferences, which tend to be relatively stable, evolving over long periods of time.

“In the short run, willingness to purchase beef will depend on the relative prices of other products, particularly substitute products that may be consumed in place of a particular product,” Peel says. “For specific beef products, this is a complicated consideration, including other proteins such as pork and poultry, as well as the multitude of other beef products that may be chosen by consumers. In periods of low income, beef consumers may trade down from high cost beef products to lower valued products. Food service demand, which remains diminished, will emphasize this impact going forward.”

Cattle Current Daily—Aug. 4, 2020 2020-08-03T18:10:26-05:00

Cattle Current Weekly Highlights—Week ending July 31, 2020

Calf prices continued to move contra-seasonally last week, seeking post-COVID fundamental levels, while strong demand continued for yearlings, with more optimism for fed cattle values.

Nationwide, steers and heifers sold steady to $4/cwt. higher, with the most advance on yearlings weighing more than 800 lbs., according to the Agricultural marketing Service (AMS).

“Calf prices are holding their own, and this is most likely due to how low prices were in the spring. Thus, it is not that calf prices are strong. They are simply trying to find where they should be, given today’s market,” says Andrew P. Griffith, agricultural economist at the University of Tennessee, in his weekly market comments. “This class of cattle will start to see some pressure towards the end of summer and moving into the fall months.”

As for feeder cattle, Griffith says there is plenty of market optimism, but suggests, “Producers should take advantage of the marketing opportunity being made available to them right now. If the cattle will make money with a sale today, then move them. If the cattle need a few more days of growing, then try to forward contract the cattle.”

Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $3.34 higher week to week on Friday, supported by the outlook for favorable corn prices.

“With improving corn conditions at this time of year, yields will no doubt improve, keeping the corn market under pressure, regardless of demand,” say AMS analysts. “Big crops usually get bigger and yields will be no exception. This makes it hard to convince anyone, especially farmer-feeders, that we will have any corn production problems. Thoughts that the size of the corn crop will overshadow demand has many producers willing to walk a lot of corn to town.”

Corn crop progress is ahead of last year and the five-year average, with 72% rated in Good or Excellent condition, in the USDA Crop Progress report for the week ending July 26.

Corn futures were an average of 7¢ lower through the front six contracts, week to week on Friday.

Griffith also notes demand continues to be contra-seasonally strong for packer cows and bulls. “This is likely due to the demand for lean grinding beef that has skyrocketed during the COVID-19 pandemic as consumers are pulling ground beef off meat counter shelves rapidly,” he says.

Fed Cattle Prices Edge Higher

Negotiated cash fed cattle prices ended the week generally $1-$2 higher on a live basis at $97/cwt. in the Southern Plains, $100 in Nebraska, $98 in Colorado and steady at $101-$102 in the western Corn Belt. Dressed prices were $2 higher at $160.

Through Thursday, the average five-area direct weighted steer prices was $98.49/cwt. on a live basis, which was $1.26 more than the previous week, but $15.48 less than the same time last year. The average dressed steer price of $160.02 was $1.92 higher than the previous week, but $24.49 less than the previous year.

There are still plenty of backlogged market-ready fed cattle to work through, but it appears progress is being made, says Derrell Peel, Extension livestock marketing specialist at Oklahoma State University, in his weekly market comments.

“The calculated estimates of cattle on feed over 120 days are still very large compared to last year, but the difference has decreased by some 160,000 head since May,” Peel says, referring to the latest monthly Cattle on Feed report. “It appears that the backlog is decreasing but a sizable number of cattle remain to be cleaned up before feedlots will be current.”

Estimated total cattle slaughter for the week ending Aug. 1 was 638,000 head, which was 8,000 fewer than the previous week, but 5,000 head more than the same week last year. Year-to-date estimated total cattle slaughter of 18.4 million head is 1.02 million head fewer (-5.26%) than last year.

Live Cattle futures closed an average of $1.81 higher week to week on Friday. Along with firming wholesale beef values, support included a more positive weekly export outlook. U.S. beef export net sales for the week of July 23 totaled 29,500 metric tons (mt)—a market year high—up 89% from the previous week and up 81% from the previous four-week average. That’s according to the U.S. Export Sales report from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.

AMS analysts note the weaker U.S. dollar is helping exports, with the dollar index at its lowest level in two years.

“At this point in the game, it would appear the summer low is in for finished cattle. That likely means a slow grind to higher prices, because the Labor Day holiday is the only grilling holiday remaining and December is several months down the road,” Griffith says. “It is tough to predict how strong this market will be, but there is a chance of reaching $115 in December.”

Wholesale Beef Values Firm

Choice boxed beef cutout value closed higher week to week for the second consecutive week, suggesting the ebb is established and the market will proceed along more fundamental lines.

Choice boxed beef cutout value was $1.49 higher week to week on Friday at $203.26/cwt. Select was 74¢ lower at $189.39.

“Hopefully, price levels should be attractive for retail interest and to consumers with some of the lowest beef prices seen for the month of July,” say AMS analysts. 

The average dressed steer weight the week ending July 18 of 899 lbs. was 3 lbs. less than the prior week but 33 lbs. more than the same week a year earlier, according to USDA’s Actual Slaughter Under Federal Inspection report. The average dressed heifer weight of 829 lbs. was the same as a week earlier but 34 lbs. heavier than the prior year.

“Federally inspected beef production has been above year-ago levels since the second week of June, while federally inspected cattle slaughter is down nearly 70,000 head over the same timeframe, compared to last year,” Griffith explains. “The increase in beef production stems from heavier cattle that spent more days on feed than was anticipated. However, it is not only total beef production that is being influenced by more days on feed. The increased number of days on feed is likely the reason more cattle are grading Choice.”

Friday to Friday Change

 

Weekly Auction Receipts

 

July 31 Auction Direct

Video/net

Total
 

136,100

(+8,000)

48,500

(-31,000)

400

(-96,200)

185,000

(-119,200)

 

 

CME Feeder Index

CME Feeder Index* July 30 Change
  $138.58 –   $0.85

*Thursday-to Thursday for CME Feeder Index

 

Cash Stocker and Feeder

North Central

Steers-Cash July 31 Change
600-700 lbs. $153.58 –   $9.14
700-800 lbs. $145.23 –   $3.79
800-900 lbs. $140.86 –   $0.55

 

South Central

Steers-Cash July 31 Change
500-600 lbs. $154.22 + $1.41
600-700 lbs. $148.10 + $3.00
700-800 lbs. $140.20 –  $0.28

 

Southeast

Steers-Cash July 31 Change
400-500 lbs. $148.82 + $1.98
500-600 lbs. $139.90 + $0.96
600-700 lbs. $134.26 + $2.18

(AMS National Weekly Feeder & Stocker Cattle Summary)

 

Wholesale Beef Value

Boxed Beef  (p.m.) July 31 ($/cwt) Change
Choice $203.26 + $1.49
Select $189.89 –  $0.74
Ch-Se Spread $13.37 + $2.23

 

Futures

Feeder Cattle  July 31 Change
Aug $144.675 + $2.625
Sep $146.225 + $3.475
Oct $145.650 + $3.850
Nov $146.825 + $4.150
Jan ’21 $144.600 + $3.575
Mar $143.350 + $3.175
Apr $144.575 + $3.250
May $145.050 + $2.625

 

Live Cattle   July 31 Change
Aug $102.825 + $1.500
Oct $107.875 + $2.775
Dec $111.550 + $2.225
Feb ’21 $114.550 + $2.100
Apr $115.850 + $1.875
Jun $109.950 + $1.500
Aug $108.700 + $1.400
Oct $110.575 + $1.050
Dec $113.625 + $1.875

 

Corn  July 31 Change
Sep $3.160 – $0.102
Dec $3.270 – $0.080
Mar ’21 $3.382 – $0.078
May $3.460 – $0.070
Jly $3.522 – $0.062
Sep $3.554 – $0.042

 

Oil CME-WTI July 31 Change
Sep $40.27 –  $1.02
Oct $40.57 –  $0.88
Nov $40.91 –  $0.73
Dec $41.22 –  $0.60
Jan ’21 $41.49 –  $0.51
Feb $41.75 –  $0.43

 

Equities

Equity Indexes July 31 Change
Dow Industrial Average  26428.32 –     41.57
NASDAQ  10745.28 +  382.10
S&P 500   3271.12 +     55.49
Dollar (DXY)       93.46 –        0.89
Cattle Current Weekly Highlights—Week ending July 31, 2020 2020-08-02T15:13:41-05:00

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