Negotiated cash fed cattle prices were steady in the Southern Plains last week at $124/cwt. In late-week trade, live prices were steady to $2 higher in the north at $126-$128 in Nebraska, $127.00-$127.50 in Colorado and at $127-$130 in the western Corn Belt. Dressed trade was steady to unevenly steady at $204-$206.
Sluggish, directionless trade had Cattle futures hovering in mixed action early in Monday’s session. They ended the day grinding a touch higher.
Live Cattle futures closed an average of 18¢ higher, except for 25¢ lower in spot Apr and unchanged in Dec.
Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 45¢ higher.
Corn futures closed mostly fractionally higher to 1¢ higher.
Soybean futures closed 1¢ to 3¢ higher.
Wholesale beef values were sharply higher on Choice and steady on Select with moderate to good demand and moderate offerings, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was $2.23 higher Monday afternoon at $230.98/cwt., the highest since last May. Select was 20¢ higher at $221.22.
Major U.S. financial indices leaked lower Monday, presumably on mixed quarterly earnings reports.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 27 points lower. The S&P 500 closed 1 point lower. The NASDAQ was down 8 points.
“With generally good summer forage prospects, stocker cattle demand remains strong with spring calf price peaks continuing into mid-April,” says Derrell Peel, Extension livestock marketing specialist at Oklahoma State University, in his weekly market comments. “Lightweight feeder cattle prices have yet to confirm a seasonal price peak and may hold steady or even push slightly higher in the next two to three weeks. In Oklahoma, 5-weight steer prices typically drop roughly 7% between the spring peak into July and another 4% to fall lows in October. Large frame, #1 steers (500 lbs.) are currently priced about $186/cwt., suggesting an October low price of roughly $166.”
As for feeder steers (7-weight to 8-weight), Peel says they typically increase to a peak in July before declining in the second half of the year.
“Current steer prices are roughly $148/cwt. (750 lbs., Large #1), suggesting a peak July price of roughly $153 and an October price near $148,” Peel says. “Futures markets are more optimistic than that for feeder markets with current Feeder Cattle futures prices for the summer and fall well above these levels. This may provide a pricing opportunity for summer or fall feeder sales.”
Although cash cattle prices may have peaked in late March at nearly $129/cwt., Peel believes lingering weather impacts could fuel one more price surge in the next few weeks.
“Beef production thus far this year is down 0.7% year over year but weekly beef production the last four weeks has averaged 1.8% higher year over year,” Peel says. “Beef production typically increases from the first quarter to the third quarter of the year. The seasonal increase in beef production may be tempered somewhat in the coming weeks by lower carcass weights and other lingering impacts of severe weather this winter and spring. Normal seasonality of fed prices indicates that fed prices will likely drop to +/- $120/cwt. for fall lows.”