Daily Market Highlights

Cattle Current Daily—Sept. 28, 2020

Negotiated cash fed cattle prices ended the week generally $2 higher on a live basis at mostly $105/cwt. in the five-area feeding region, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service. Dressed trade was $1-$2 higher at mostly $165.

Through Thursday, the five-area direct weighted average steer price was $105.03/cwt. on a live basis, which was $1.49 higher than the previous week. The average steer price in the beef was $164.87, which was $1.94 higher.

Even so, Feeder Cattle futures closed lower on Friday, likely based mostly on expectations of a bearish Cattle on Feed report, which came to fruition (see below). Live Cattle followed along, to a lesser degree.

Live Cattle futures closed an average of 72¢ lower, from 7¢ lower at the back to $1.05 lower.

Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $1.70 lower, from 97¢ lower at the back to $2.20 lower.

Choice boxed beef cutout value was $1.86 higher Friday afternoon at $219.34/cwt. Select was 76¢ lower at $206.98.

Corn futures closed fractionally higher to 1¢ higher.

Soybean futures closed 2¢ to 5¢ higher through Nov ’21 and then mostly higher to 1¢ to 4¢ lower.

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Major U.S. financial indices closed higher Friday, buoyed by tech stocks, and despite ongoing wonderments about domestic and international economic recovery.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 358 points higher. The S&P 500 closed 51 points higher. The NASDAQ closed 241 points higher.

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If anything, the monthly USDA Cattle on Feed report issued Friday (feedlots with 1,000 head or more capacity) will likely be viewed as bearish, with 2.06 million head placed in August, which was 173,000 head more (+9.2%) than a year earlier. That’s about 3% more than expectations heading into the report. In terms of weights, 36% went on feed weighing 699 lbs. or less, 48% weighing 700-899 lbs. and 16% weighing 900 lbs. or more.

Marketings in August of 1.89 million head were 61,000 head fewer (-3.1%) than last year, in line with expectations.

Cattle on feed Sept. 1 of 11.39 million head were 412,000 head more (+3.8%) than a year earlier, which was the most for the date since the data series began in 1996.

Cattle Current Daily—Sept. 28, 2020 2020-09-26T17:28:26-05:00

Cattle Current Daily—Sept. 25, 2020

Although there were too few transactions to trend in any region, early negotiated cash fed cattle sales were at mostly higher prices week to week on Thursday.

There were a few live trades in Kansas at $105/cwt. and a few in the western Corn Belt at $104-$105. Early dressed trades were at $165 in Nebraska and the western Corn Belt.

Cash optimism and another day of higher wholesale beef prices helped Cattle futures extend gains on Thursday.

Live Cattle futures closed an average of 83¢ higher.

Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 93¢ higher, from 45¢ higher in expiring Sep to $1.20 higher at the back.

Wholesale beef values gained for another day. Choice boxed beef cutout value was $1.61 higher Thursday afternoon at $217.48/cwt. Select was 14¢ higher at $207.74.

The average dressed steer weight of 920 lbs. for the week ending Sept. 12, was 2 lbs. heavier than the previous week and 29 lbs. heavier than the same week last year, according to USDA’s Actual Slaughter Under Federal Inspection report. The average dressed heifer weight of 836 lbs. was 4 lbs. heavier than the prior week and 14 lbs. heavier than a year earlier.

Net U.S. beef export sales for 2020 of 18,000 metric tons were up 26% from the previous week and 36% from the prior four-week average, according to the Weekly U.S. Export Sales report from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, for the week ending Sept. 17. Increases were primarily for Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong.

Corn futures closed mostly 3¢ to 5¢ lower.

Soybean futures closed 12¢ to 16¢ lower through Sep ’21 and then fractionally higher to 9¢ lower.

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Major U.S. financial indices edged higher Thursday, following the previous session’s selloff.

On the one hand, initial weekly job insurance claims increased by 4,000 week to week to 870,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

On the other, new and existing home sales continue at a blistering pace.

Existing-home sales increased in August for the third consecutive month, according to the National Association of Realtors®. For the month, total existing-home completed transactions rose 2.4% from July. Through July, existing home sales were 10.5% higher year over year.

“Home sales continue to amaze, and there are plenty of buyers in the pipeline ready to enter the market,” says Lawrence Yun, NAR’s chief economist. “Further gains in sales are likely for the remainder of the year, with mortgage rates hovering around 3% and with continued job recovery.”

As for new home sales, they were 4.8% higher from July to August and 43.2% higher year over year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 52 points higher. The S&P 500 closed 9 points higher. The NASDAQ closed 39 points higher.

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Income growth, reduced trade barriers and technological advancements are driving the increase in global value chains, transforming markets and trade processes, linking farmers to traders and consumers across regions and countries. That’s according to a new report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The State of Agricultural Commodity Markets, 2020 (SOCO 2020) argues that global trade and well-functioning markets lie at the heart of the development process as they can spur inclusive economic growth and sustainable development, and strengthen resilience to shocks.

Global agri-food trade more than doubled since 1995, amounting to $1.5 trillion in 2018, with emerging and developing countries’ exports on the rise and accounting for over one-third of the world’s total, according to the report.

Technological progress, urbanization, population and income growth, lower transport costs, trade policies and a decline in average import tariffs are driving the growth.

“We need to rely on markets as an integral part of the global food system. This is all the more important in the face of major disruptions, whether they come from COVID-19, locust outbreaks or climate change,” according to FAO Director-General QU Dongyu in his introduction to the report.

The report estimates that about one-third of global agricultural and food exports are traded within a global value chain and cross borders at least twice.

Among the report highlights:

Upper and lower middle income countries, together, increased their share in global agri-food exports from about 25% in 2001 to 36% in 2018.

Although global agri-food trade doubled since 1995 in real value, its growth rate slowed since the 2008 financial crisis. This is expected to be further impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Digital technologies are transforming all stages of the food value chain from farm to table. They improve efficiency, create jobs and save resources. But it is difficult to foresee all the impacts technological innovation can have on how food is grown, processed, traded and consumed.  

While countries in Europe and Central Asia, and East Asia and the Pacific tend to trade within the same regions, countries in South Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean, sub-Saharan Africa, North America, and the Middle East and North Africa trade more globally.

Cattle Current Daily—Sept. 25, 2020 2020-09-24T18:50:31-05:00

Cattle Current Daily—Sept. 24, 2020

Cattle feeders offered 683 head in the weekly Fed Cattle Exchange Auction, all from the Southern Plains. They sold 219 head (two lots) for an average of $104.16/cwt., for delivery at 1-17 days. That was higher than last week’s country trade of $103.00-$103.50.

Similarly, Choice steers and heifers sold 75¢ to $1 higher at the fat auction in Tama, IA. Choice 2-4 steers (217 head) weighing an average of 1,450 lbs. sold for an average price of $105.55/cwt., at the top of last week’s price range for country trade.

On the other hand, slaughter steers sold $2-$3 lower at Sioux Falls Regional in South Dakota, where 332 Choice 2-3 steers weighing an average of 1,490 lbs. brought an average price of $102.92.

The notion of firm to higher cash prices helped support Cattle futures Wednesday, although trade was sluggish.

Live Cattle futures closed an average of 51¢ higher (10¢ to $1.02 higher).

Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 55¢ higher.

Choice boxed beef cutout value was 43¢ higher Wednesday afternoon at $215.87/cwt. Select was $1.30 higher at $207.60.

Corn futures closed fractionally lower to 1¢ lower.

Soybean futures closed 3¢ to 5¢ lower through Nov ’21 and then mostly fractionally higher.

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Major U.S. financial indices closed lower Wednesday, hamstrung by big tech stocks and wariness over the pace of economic recovery.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 525 points lower. The S&P 500 closed 78 points lower. The NASDAQ closed 330 points lower.

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As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, some researchers are getting their arms wrapped around the resulting economic damage so far, and into the future.

For instance, a recent Texas A&M AgriLife coordinated study suggests the pandemic will reduce U.S. gross domestic product (GDP), by $2.5 trillion and employment by 19 million full-time equivalent jobs over the next year.

The study includes researchers from Texas A&M’s Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Center of Excellence Cross-Border Threat Screening and Supply Chain Defense (CBTS), Arizona State University’s DHS Center of Excellence, the Center for Accelerating Operational Efficiency, and researchers at the Victoria University in Australia.

Researchers utilized a model of the U.S. economy with a special emphasis on major food and agriculture sectors.

Compared to most other sectors–tourism, air transport, education, restaurants and lodging–the report concludes U.S. food and agricultural sectors will experience smaller economic impacts because they were not subject to shutdowns and reductions in aggregate consumer spending brought on by job losses.

Researchers also suggests livestock operations will suffer economically more than crop operations. They explain USDA’s latest figures show that animal product receipts in 2020 are down just over 8.1%, while cash receipts for crops are expected to increase 6.9%.

“This analysis gives us a critical and realistic evaluation of how the pandemic has and will continue to impact our nation’s and the world’s food supply,” says Patrick J. Stover, vice chancellor of Texas A&M AgriLife, dean of the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and director of Texas A&M AgriLife Research. “It will be critical that we work together to elevate food system concerns and develop solutions that address the economic consequences to serve as a foundation for lasting recovery.”

Here you can read the full article by Kay Ledbetter, associate editor/communication specialist for Texas A&M AgriLife Research.

Cattle Current Daily—Sept. 24, 2020 2020-09-23T19:40:14-05:00

Cattle Current Daily—Sept. 23, 2020

Cattle futures closed lower Tuesday, especially Feeder Cattle, with the lack of cash direction, demand wonderments and perhaps queasiness over the next Cattle on Feed report due out Friday.

Live Cattle futures closed an average of 64¢ lower (20¢ to $1.02 lower).

Except for 62¢ higher in spot Sep, Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $1.33 lower (47¢ to $1.67 lower).

Choice boxed beef cutout value was 78¢ lower Tuesday afternoon at $215.44/cwt. Select was 48¢ higher at $206.30.

Corn futures closed unchanged to fractionally mixed.

Soybean futures closed 1¢ to 3¢ lower through Sep ’21 and then 5¢ to 8¢ lower.

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Major U.S. financial indices closed higher Tuesday, with technical buying the apparent driver.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 140 points higher. The S&P 500 closed 34 points higher. The NASDAQ closed 184 points higher.

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Total pounds of beef in freezers as of Aug. 31 were 5% more than the previous month but 2% less than last year, according to the latest Cold Storage report from USDA.

Frozen pork supplies were up 2% from the previous month but down 23% from last year.

Total red meat supplies in freezers were 3% more than the previous month but 13% less than last year.

Total frozen poultry supplies were up 1% from the previous month but down 2% from a year earlier.

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Projected cattle feeding returns improve significantly in September, compared to recent months, according to the latest monthly Historical and Projected Kansas Feedlot Net Returns from Kansas State University.

Net returns for closeouts in August were estimated at -$162.33/head for steers and -$101.76 for heifers. Keep in mind, estimates are on a cash basis and do not include price risk management.

Starting in September, though, net returns for steers are projected to be positive for the next seven months (September through March), ranging from $20.56/head in September to $101.52 in October, with feedlot cost of gain ranging from $80.01/cwt. in September to $84.71 in February.

Projected net returns are positive for heifers during the same period of time, ranging from $8.41/head in January to $66.18 in October, with feedlot cost of gain of $87.67/cwt. in September to $91.42 in March.

Cattle Current Daily—Sept. 23, 2020 2020-09-22T19:46:26-05:00

Cattle Current Daily—Sept. 22, 2020

The five-area direct average fed steer price last week was $103.54/cwt. on a live basis, which was $2.33 more than the previous week. The average steer price in the beef was $163.25, which was $2.59 higher.

However, sharply lower outside markets and likely profit taking pressured Cattle futures Monday.

Live Cattle futures closed an average of 89¢ lower (65¢ to $1.25 lower).

Except for 20¢ higher in spot Sep and Nov, Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 58¢ lower.

Wholesale beef prices found some traction, though.

Choice boxed beef cutout value was 58¢ higher Monday afternoon at $216.22/cwt. Select was $1.88 higher at $205.82.

Lower outside markets and harvest pressure pushed grain futures lower Monday.

Corn futures closed 8¢ lower through May ’21 and then mostly 4¢ to 5¢ lower.

Soybean futures closed 17¢ to 21¢ lower through Mar ’21 and then mostly 10¢ to 12¢ lower.

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Major U.S. financial indices closed sharply lower on Monday, but well off of session lows. Pressure included worries about another surge of COVID-19 leading to renewed shutdowns in different parts of the world, as well as the inability of Congress to come to terms on more economic stimulus for businesses and individuals.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 509 points lower. The S&P 500 closed 38 points lower. The NASDAQ closed 14 points lower.

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Analysts with the Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC) expect fourth-quarter beef production to be more than in 2019, but note cattle flows will also contend with smaller placements in March and April.

“The supply situation for beef is still unfolding,” say LMIC analysts, in the latest Livestock Monitor. “Dressed weights have not followed the normal seasonal pattern through the summer but look to be closing the gap between last year and 2020. In the latest week of data, steer dressed weights are only 25 lbs. heavier than a year ago. This is a significant decrease compared to summer increases of 40 lbs. or more in June. Slaughter levels in August were below a year ago, but the last two weeks of actual slaughter data has picked up.”

USDA estimated total cattle slaughter last week at 645,000 head, which was 71,000 head more than the previous week, but 16,000 head fewer than the same week last year. Estimated total cattle slaughter year to date of 22.85 million head is still 1.07 million fewer (-4.49%) than the same time last year.

On the other side of the trade, LMIC points to the odds of a weaker economy pressuring beef demand.

“Corporate holiday parties and other holiday gatherings had been a boost to beef demand in recent years; the frequency of those events will likely decrease significantly in 2020,” LMIC analysts explain. “Retail featuring high-end meat cuts is expected this holiday season as the Restaurant Expectation and Performance Index remains in contraction territory and those cuts have struggled to move quantities. But, it seems unlikely the retail all fresh beef demand index will take out the record set in 2019. First and second quarter indexes have been above a year ago in 2020, but none were record highs. Third quarter data is still pending.”

USDA estimated beef production last week of 540.1 million lbs., which was 60.4 million lbs. more than the previous week and just 3.8 million lbs. less than the same week last year.

Cattle Current Daily—Sept. 22, 2020 2020-09-21T18:39:16-05:00

Cattle Current Daily—Sept. 21, 2020

Negotiated cash fed cattle trade continued higher on Friday with dressed trade in Nebraska at $165/cwt., which was $2 higher than earlier in the week and $4-$5 higher than the prior week. Dressed trade was $2-$3 higher in the western Corn Belt at $163.

Live sales for the week ended up $1.50-$2.00 higher in the Southern Plains at $103.00-$103.50, $2.50 higher in Nebraska at $103.50 and $2-$4 higher in the western Corn Belt at $104-$105.

Stronger cash prices to end the week helped lift Cattle futures on Friday.

Live Cattle futures closed an average of 37¢ higher.

Except for 25¢ lower in the back contract, Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 64¢ higher.

Choice boxed beef cutout value was 59¢ higher Friday afternoon at $215.64/cwt. Select was 55¢ higher at $203.94.

Corn futures closed 2¢ to 3¢ higher.

Soybean futures closed 9¢ to 15¢ higher through Aug ’21 and then mostly 1¢ to 4¢ higher.

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Major U.S. financial indices closed lower on Friday, pressured once again by big tech stocks, uncertainty over federal pandemic stimulus and political sabre rattling between the U.S. and China.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 244 points lower. The S&P 500 closed 37 points lower. The NASDAQ closed 117 points lower.

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“As consumers continue to eat at home, and the longer sit-down restaurants are closed or at limited capacity, the longer lean beef imports will remain strong,” says Andrew P. Griffith, agricultural economist at the University of Tennessee, in his weekly market comments.

Griffith explains most beef imported to the U.S. is lean beef meant for grinding to produce ground beef, hot dogs, taco meat and the like. He notes that U.S. beef imports in July of 376.8 million lbs. represented the largest monthly total in 15 years.

The July total was 41.1% more than a year earlier, pushing imports for the first seven months of the year 8.5% higher year over year, according to Derrell Peel, Extension livestock marketing specialist at Oklahoma State University.

“Beef imports were up from each of the four largest beef import sources,” Peel explains, in his weekly market comments. “Canada, the largest source of beef imports, was up 12.7% in July but was down 5.8% for the year to date. Mexico was up 34.3% in July compared to last year and was up 25.5% so far this year.  Mexico now exceeds Australia as the number two source of U.S. beef imports.  Australia was up 17.1% year over year in July but was down 2.7% for the year to date. New Zealand was up 94.2% in July and was 13.3% higher for the year to date. So far in 2020, Canada and Mexico account for 44.3% of total beef imports. Combined with Australia and New Zealand, the top four source represent 82.4% of total beef imports.”

On the other side of the trade ledger, Griffith points out U.S. beef exports began to recover in July, compared to year-over-year weakness the previous three months.

“Currency exchange rates are important factors affecting international beef trade,” Peel explains. “Since the COVID-19 impacts began in mid-March, the U.S. dollar has been significantly stronger compared to the Argentinian, Brazilian and Mexican currencies and somewhat stronger against the Canadian, Australian and New Zealand dollars. A strong U.S. dollar is a headwind for beef exports and favors beef imports. The U.S. dollar has weakened slightly against the Japanese Yen, and the Hong Kong dollar, which does help support beef exports to those two major markets.”

Cattle Current Daily—Sept. 21, 2020 2020-09-19T18:35:12-05:00

Cattle Current Daily—Sept. 18, 2020

Negotiated cash fed cattle trade continued on Thursday. For the week, live sales are $2-$4 higher than last week at $103.00-$103.50/cwt. in the Southern Plains, $103 in Nebraska and $104-$105 in the western Corn Belt. Dressed trade is $1-$3 higher at $162-$163.

Even so, Cattle futures closed mostly lower Thursday, with pressure from the grain side of the ledger, as well as demand wonderments.

Except for 5¢ higher to 82¢ higher in three contracts, Live Cattle futures closed an average of 38¢ lower.

Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 77¢ lower (32¢ to $1.32 lower).

Choice boxed beef cutout value was 33¢ lower Thursday afternoon at $215.05/cwt. Select was $1.12 lower at $203.39.

Actual fed cattle slaughter for the week ending Sept. 5 of 508,955 head was 18,484 head fewer than the prior week, but 58,883 head more than the previous year, according to USDA’s Actual Slaughter Under Federal Inspection report.

Total cattle slaughter for the week of 635,387 head was 18,353 head fewer than the prior week, but 64,324 head more than the previous year.

The average dressed steer weight of 918 lbs. was 2 lbs. heavier than the previous week, but 25 lbs. more than the same week a year earlier. The average dressed heifer weight of 832 lbs. was 2 lbs. lighter than the previous week, but 17 lbs. more than a year earlier.

Net U.S. beef export sales for 2020 of 14,300 metric tons (mt) were 8% less than the previous week and 2% less than the prior four-week average, according to the Weekly Export Sales report from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, for the week ending Sept. 10. Increases were primarily for South Korea, Japan, China, Mexico and Canada. 

Net U.S. pork sales for 2020 of 50,600 mt were 68% more than the previous week and 41% more than the prior four-week average. Increases were primarily for China, Mexico, Japan, Canada and Australia.

Corn futures closed 2¢ to 3¢ higher through Jly ’21 and then mostly fractionally higher. 

Soybean futures closed 9¢ to 17¢ higher through Mar ’21 and then mostly 1¢ to 4¢ higher.

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Major U.S. financial indices closed lower on Thursday, pressured by big tech stocks, as well as uncertainty over the next round of federal pandemic economic stimulus.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 130 points lower. The S&P 500 closed 28 points lower. The NASDAQ closed 140 points lower.

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“The reduction in slaughter capacity in the second quarter continues to show up in the year-over-year higher number of cattle on feed over 150 days (although diminishing since June) and in the carcass weights of steers and heifers,” say analysts with USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS), in the latest monthly Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook. “The improved pace of slaughter, combined with an ample supply of fed cattle at heavier weights, led to higher expected beef production in third-quarter 2020 relative to 2019, which is likely putting pressure on cattle prices.”

ERS projects the average five-area direct Choice fed steer price at $101/cwt. for the third quarter, $104 for the fourth quarter and at $107.30 for the annual average, the same as the previous month.

Heading into 2021, however, ERS forecast average Choice steer prices $2 higher than the previous month’s estimate at $107 in the first and second quarters of next year with an annual average price of $112.

That’s based on expectations that a larger proportion of available feeder cattle supplies available July 1 were placed on feed, which will limit supplies available for placement in the first half of next year.

“This pulls feedlot marketings, and consequently steer and heifer slaughter, forward from the latter quarters of 2021,” say ERS analysts. “With fewer steers and heifers in the slaughter mix and higher forecast feed costs affecting the length of time on feed, carcass weight gains next year will be limited. Because of this, anticipated average carcass weights were reduced in 2021. Based on these factors combined, the forecast for 2021 beef production was reduced by 265 million lbs. from last month to 27.4 billion lbs.”

ERS left projected feeder cattle prices unchanged from the previous month as higher feed costs and the slower expected pace of marketing outweigh declining supplies.

The average feeder steer price (basis Oklahoma City) is projected at $140/cwt. in the third and fourth quarters for an annual average of $135.70. The projected feeder steer price is $131 for the first quarter of next year, $134 for the second quarter and at $137 for the 2021 average.

“The result of greater placements in second-half 2020 without increased marketings in the second half will likely keep cattle in feedlots above year-ago levels through the remainder of 2020,” say ERS analysts. “Because of this, anticipated feeder cattle supplies will diminish in 2021. However, the increase in fed cattle prices will likely offset higher corn prices forecast for next year.”

Cattle Current Daily—Sept. 18, 2020 2020-09-17T20:18:21-05:00

Cattle Current Daily—Sept. 17, 2020

Negotiated cash fed cattle trade began to develop in the Southern Plains on Wednesday, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service. Live prices were $2 higher in Kansas at $103/cwt. and $1.50-$2.00 higher in the Texas Panhandle at $103.00-$103.50.

That helps explain why there were no sales in the weekly Fed Cattle Exchange Auction, where 613 were offered—all from the Southern Plains. Two lots in that sale were passed on at $102.25.

At the fat auction in Tama, IA, though, 221 head of Choice 2-4 steers weighing an average of 1,379 lbs. brought an average of $104.63, which was more than the $100-$103 country trade in the region last week.

Similarly, slaughter steers sold steady to $2 higher in the fat auction at Sioux Falls Regional in South Dakota, where 250 head of Choice 2-3 steers weighed an average of 1,431 lbs. and brought an average of $105.20.

Cattle futures closed mixed again, with Feeder Cattle receiving some pressure from grains.

Live Cattle futures closed mixed but mostly marginally higher (an average of 15¢ lower to an average of 20¢ higher).

Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 71¢ lower (27¢ to $1.27 higher).

Choice boxed beef cutout value was 71¢ lower Wednesday afternoon at $215.38/cwt. Select was $1.77 lower at $204.51.

Corn futures closed 4¢ to 5¢ higher through Jly ’21 and then mostly 2¢ to 3¢ higher. 

Soybean futures closed 13¢ to 19¢ higher through Aug ’21 and then mostly 3¢ to 8¢ higher, helped along by recent export sales.

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Major U.S. financial indices closed mixed on Wednesday, pressured by big tech stocks, while some other sectors received support from the FOMC announcement it was maintaining the current interest rate levels.

“The Committee decided to keep the target range for the federal funds rate at 0% to 0.25% and expects it will be appropriate to maintain this target range until labor market conditions have reached levels consistent with the Committee’s assessments of maximum employment and inflation has risen to 2% and is on track to moderately exceed 2% for some time,” according to the FOMC statement.

In other words, it will likely be a good while before they entertain an increase in interest rates.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 36 points higher. The S&P 500 closed 15 points lower. The NASDAQ closed 139 points lower.

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“Farm commodity prices are down by 10.4% over the last 12 months. As a result, and despite the initiation of $32 billion in USDA farm support payments in 2020, only 8% of bankers reported their area economy had improved compared to July, while 18.4% said economic conditions had worsened,” says Ernie Goss, Jack A. MacAllister Chair in Regional Economics at Creighton University’s Heider College of Business.

Goss is referring to the Creighton University Rural Mainstreet Index (RMI) and monthly survey of bankers in 10 regional states, dependent on agriculture and/or energy. It focuses on approximately 200 rural communities with an average population of 1,300, and offers the most current real-time analysis of the rural economy.

The RMI increased slightly in August to 44.7, compared to 44.1 in July. The index ranges between 0 and 100; a reading of 50.0 represents growth neutral.

Bank CEOs included in the survey note that August’s index represented the sixth straight month with a reading in a recessionary economic zone.

For only the second time in the last 81 months, the farmland price index moved above growth neutral with an August reading of 50.1, up from July’s 45.6.

Economic COVID-19 impacts vary among state economies, depending on government enforced shutdowns. For instance, Todd Douglas, CEO of the First National Bank in Pierre, South Dakota, says, “We were a state that did not shut down. Western parts of the state have seen a significant boost to the economy due to tourism from shut down states.”

Goss and Bill McQuillan, former chairman of the Independent Community Banks of America, created the monthly economic survey in 2005.

Bankers estimated that farm loan defaults would rise by 5.3% over the next 12- month period. That’s slightly higher than the 5% recorded the previous month, and the 4.8% a year earlier.

Cattle Current Daily—Sept. 17, 2020 2020-09-16T19:09:30-05:00

Cattle Current Daily—Sept. 16, 2020

Cattle futures closed narrowly mixed Tuesday, awaiting cash direction.

Live Cattle futures closed mixed but mostly marginally lower (an average of 17¢ lower to an average of 25¢ higher).

Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 72¢ higher (17¢ higher in spot Sep to $1.10 higher).

Choice boxed beef cutout value was $1.12 lower Tuesday afternoon at $216.09/cwt. Select was $1.48 lower at $206.28.

Corn futures closed mostly 3¢ lower. 

Soybean futures closed 4¢ to 8¢ lower through May ’21 and then 2¢ higher to 2¢ lower.

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Major U.S. financial indices edged higher Tuesday, with support from tech stocks and ahead of the FOMC meeting scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday. 

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 2 points higher. The S&P 500 closed 17 points higher. The NASDAQ closed 133 points higher.

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“La Niña conditions were present in August, and there’s a 75% chance they’ll hang around through the winter,” according to the latest update from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which issued a La Niña Advisory in recent days.

While every El Niño Southern Oscillation is different, the NOAA folks say it makes certain outcomes more likely. In this case, La Niña winters tend to be warmer and drier in the Southern tier of the United States and tend to be colder in the Northern tier.

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“Drive-thru and other off-premises operations will be a major part of the U.S. restaurant industry’s recovery and future,” says David Portalatin, food industry advisor for The NPD Group (NPD). “Drive-thru operations are delivering a high ROI during the pandemic, offering convenience, speed, and the comfort of social distance to consumers using them. Fast casual and traditional quick service chains have already announced expansion plans for their drive-thru operations, and we will hear about more chains doing the same.”

Compared to pandemic lows, drive-thru restaurant visits increased by 26% in the April, May, and June quarter and represented 42% of all restaurant visits, according to NPD. Although more restaurants reopened in July, drive-thru visits still increased by 13%.

For perspective, according to NPD, drive-thru visits declined 17% year over year in the second quarter, but they fared significantly more positively than other restaurant categories and segments.

Visits to fast casual chains were down 26% year over year in the second quarter. Prior to the pandemic, and for the last several years, they outpaced the U.S. restaurant industry in visits and unit growth. Many of them don’t have drive-thru operations.

Likewise, most full service restaurants don’t have drive-thrus. They were most impacted by the mandated dine-in closure, with year-over-year declines of 48% in April, May and June, before improving to a year-over-decline of 32% in July.

Cattle Current Daily—Sept. 16, 2020 2020-09-15T19:41:02-05:00

Cattle Current Daily—Sept. 15, 2020

The five-area direct average steer price last week was $101.21/cwt. on a live basis, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service. That was $1.91 less than the prior week. The average steer price in the beef of $160.66 was $2.41 less.

Cattle futures took a step higher Monday, building on last week’s gains, tied to the outlook for slightly snugger supplies and support from lean hog prices, which appear ready to advance, on South Korea and China banning pork exports from Germany, due to African Swine Fever discovered in that nation.

Live Cattle futures closed an average of $1.20 higher (77¢ to $1.80 higher).

Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $1.75 higher ($1.50 to $2.02 higher).

Choice boxed beef cutout value was $2.68 lower Monday afternoon at $217.21/cwt. Select was 66¢ higher at $207.76.

After 7¢ higher in spot Sep, Corn futures closed mostly fractionally mixed to 1¢ lower. 

After 13¢ higher in spot Sep, Soybean futures closed 4¢ to 8¢ higher.

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Major U.S. financial indices closed higher Monday, buoyed by merger and acquisition news, as well as increasing optimism about a COVID-19 vaccine being developed by the end of the year.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 327 points higher. The S&P 500 closed 42 points higher. The NASDAQ closed 203 points higher.

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Although food and meat supplies continue to strengthen, following the worst of pandemic disruptions, returning to a balanced marketplace requires an economic recovery that reduces unemployment and revives household incomes, according to Greg Pompelli, director of the Texas A&M AgriLife-led Center of Excellence for Cross-Border Threat Screening and Supply Chain Defense Center. He adds that, given the importance of global markets to U.S. agriculture, the focus will be on returning to pre-pandemic trade levels.

In the meantime, David Anderson, Extension livestock economist at Texas A&M University says the pandemic may prompt a new normal in consumer purchasing practices.

For instance, Anderson points to more delivery services, boxed meals and curbside grocery pickup options as consumers maintain some of their habits from when store shelves and meat cases were bare and people were asked to stay home.

“Another adjustment I think we are going to continue to see over time is more delivery services of groceries and food. More and more of the shoppers in the grocery aisles are employees putting together grocery orders, either for curbside pickup or for companies that bring the order to your home,” Anderson explains.

“Where we see changes at the retail level boils down to human behavior,” Pompelli says. “In the early days of the pandemic, with paper towels or toilet paper, people assumed they wouldn’t be able to find these products for a year, so they stocked up.” Now, he says, consumers are adapting and moving away from their initial reactions as their concerns about food availability diminish.

Prior to the COVID-19 shutdowns, consumers typically purchased about 50% of their food from grocery stores for home consumption and 50% from food services, such as restaurants and schools.

With restaurants continuing to operate at limited capacity and with students recently returning to schools, Anderson explains the food supply chain is still adjusting to the changing markets.

Cattle Current Daily—Sept. 15, 2020 2020-09-14T21:07:28-05:00

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