Negotiated cash fed cattle trade ended the holiday-shortened week steady to $2 lower on a live basis in the Southern Plains at $93-$95/cwt.; steady to $1 higher in Nebraska at $95-$96 and unevenly steady in the western Corn Belt at $96-$97. Dressed trade was $1 lower in Nebraska at $154-$155 and steady to $4 lower in the western Corn Belt at $152-$155.
Cattle futures extended gains, though, for no apparent reason.
Live Cattle futures closed an average of $1.08 higher (32¢ higher to $2.10 higher in spot Aug).
Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $1.78 higher ($1.47 to $2.55 higher).
Choice boxed beef cutout value was 6¢ higher Thursday afternoon at $205.44/cwt. Select was 33¢ higher at $198.76.
The average dressed steer weight for the week ending June 20 was 890 lbs., which was 6 lbs. lighter than the previous week, but 36 lbs. heavier than the previous year, according to USDA’s Actual Slaughter Under Federal Inspection report. The average dressed heifer weight of 823 lbs. was 1 lb. lighter than the previous week, but 33 lbs. heavier than the same week a year earlier.
Grain futures softened Thursday, following strong gains earlier in the week. Pressure likely included week-end positioning and profit taking, as well as the bearish weekly Export Sales report (week ending June 25) from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
Net export corn sales of 361,100 metric tons (mt) for 2019-2020 were down 22% from the previous week and 32% from the prior four-week average.
Net soybean export sales of 241,700 mt for 2019-2020 were a marketing-year low, down 60% from the previous week and 63% from the prior four-week average.
Corn futures closed mostly 3¢ to 7¢ lower.
Soybean futures closed fractionally lower to 2¢ lower.
Major U.S. financial indices climbed higher Thursday on the back of a national employment report that shattered expectations to the upside.
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 4.8 million in June, according to the Employment Situation Summary from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate declined to 11.1%.
“These improvements in the labor market reflected the continued resumption of economic activity that had been curtailed in March and April due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and efforts to contain it,” according to the report. “In June, employment in leisure and hospitality rose sharply. Notable job gains also occurred in retail trade, education and health services, other
services, manufacturing, and professional and business services.”
Average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls in June fell by 35¢ to $29.37.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 92 points higher. The S&P 500 closed 14 points higher. The NASDAQ closed 53 points higher.
“To further aid in a gentle transition back toward economic normality, federal economic policy will have to shift from sending families money to maintain social distancing to helping businesses maintain employment,” says Jeffrey Dorfman, professor of agricultural and applied economics at the University of Georgia. That’s part of a recent publication from the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST): Macroeconomic Impacts and Policies in the Face of COVID-19.
Although the government extended forgivable loans to small businesses through the Paycheck Protection Program, Dorfman explains the current unemployment bonus of $600 per week could make it harder for some businesses to reopen.
“Workers are currently making more from unemployment than from working, particularly in the retail, hospitality, and personal services sectors that are home to so many small businesses,” Dorfman says. “With the unemployment bonus, not working can pay the equivalent of about $50,000 per year. Few small businesses can compete with that when roughly half of all workers made less than that just a few months ago.”
Worker challenges aside Dorfman says, economic recovery requires customers feeling safe about returning to restaurants, local shops, movie theaters and all of the rest.
“Until a vaccine and/or effective treatments are widely available, the best confidence restorer will be clearly posted and followed safety protocols that minimize the risk of frequenting public businesses and maximize the amount of economic activity that can safely take place,” Dorfman says. “But a full recovery requires either a vaccine or treatment that convinces people contracting the virus is more a nuisance than a mortal risk.”