Cattle feeders offered 4,671 head in the weekly Fed Cattle Exchange auction on Wednesday. Of those, 860 head sold: 726 head for delivery at 1-9 days for a weighted average price of $100/cwt.; 174 head for delivery at 1-17 days for a weighted average price of $92.67. That was mainly on par with country trade so far this week.
Similarly, Choice 2-3 steers at Sioux Falls Regional (114 head) in South Dakota weighing an average of 1,453 lbs. sold for an average price of $100.15/cwt. across a range of $93.50-$102.00.
Wholesale beef values rocketed higher again Wednesday, as demand outpaces declining supplies.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was $15.90 higher Wednesday afternoon to a presumed record high of $275.75/cwt. Select was $12.20 higher at $261.02.
All of that seemed to have Cattle futures stuck in a wait-and-see mode, with light support and two-sided trade, other than a sharp drop in spot Live Cattle, given the likely continuation of near-term pressure on cash prices as the supply chain tries to sort its COVID-19 worker challenges.
Except for $2.65 lower in waning spot Apr, Live Cattle futures closed from 30¢ lower to 32¢ higher.
Except for 7¢ lower in May and 25¢ lower in the back contract, Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 27¢ higher.
Corn futures closed mostly 4¢ to 8¢ higher through Mar ’21 and then mostly 2¢ to 3¢ higher.
Soybean futures closed 5¢ lower to 4¢ higher through Mar ‘21, and then mostly 8¢ to 10¢ lower.
Major U.S. financial indices closed higher Wednesday, buoyed by resurgent oil prices. Although spot Jun West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures on the CME closed at an anemic $13.78, it was $2.21 higher than the previous day; the front six months closed $2.00-$2.34 higher.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 456 points higher. The S&P 500 closed 62 points higher. The NASDAQ closed 232 points higher.
Disruptions in beef production and consumption, due to COVID-19, began showing up in freezers last month, according to USDA’s Cold Storage report.
There were 502.42 million lbs. of beef in freezers Mar. 31, which was 2% more than the previous month and 11% more than the previous year. Of that, boneless beef cuts (466.87 million lbs.) was record large for the month–the data series began in 1972.
Incidentally, USDA’s annual Livestock Slaughter report also was published on Wednesday.
Commercial cattle slaughter last year of 33.6 million head was 2% more than the previous year, with federal inspection (FI) comprising 98.6% of the total. The average live weight was 1,344 lbs., down 6 lbs. from the previous year. Steers comprised 49.3% of the total FI cattle slaughter, heifers 29.7%, dairy cows 9.7%, other cows 9.6%, and bulls 1.6%. Non-dairy cows (other) numbered 3.19 million head, which was 5.5% (+165,700) more than in 2018.
Beef production last year was record high at 27.2 billion lbs., which was 1% more than the previous year.
Back to Cold Storage, frozen pork supplies in freezers Mar. 31 (621.93 million lbs.) were down 4% from the previous month, but 2% higher than last year. Pork belly stocks (78.82 million lbs.) were 6% higher month to month and 34% higher year over year.
Total red meat supplies in cold storage totaled 1.17 billion lbs., down 2% from the previous month, but 7% more than the previous year.
Total frozen poultry supplies (1.31 billion lbs.) were 4% higher than the previous month, but 2% less than a year earlier. However, total chicken supplies in cold storage of 921.42 million lbs. was record large for the month; 6% (+53.06 million lbs.) more than the same month last year. It included record-large supplies of breast and breast meat, legs and thigh meat.