Negotiated cash fed cattle trade broke out in the north yesterday. Live sales were as much as $4 higher in Nebraska and the western Corn Belt at $130/cwt. Dressed trade was $2-$3 higher at $207-$208.
Lighter carcass weights continue to provide support. The average dressed steer weight for the week ending Apr. 6 was 865 lbs., which was 7 lbs. less than a year earlier, according to USDA’s Actual Slaughter Under Federal Inspection report. The average dressed heifer weight was 5 lbs. less at 804 lbs.
Except bouncing higher in the front month, Live Cattle futures closed mixed Thursday, while Feeder Cattle edged higher as traders positioned ahead of the holiday weekend and ahead of the monthly Cattle on Feed report (see below). More on that report momentarily.
Other than $1.60 higher in spot Apr, Live Cattle futures closed narrowly mixed, from 15¢ lower to 30¢ higher.
Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 49¢ higher (22¢ to 95¢ higher).
Corn futures closed mostly fractionally mixed.
Soybean futures closed mostly 1¢ higher.
Wholesale beef values were firm on Choice and weak on Select with light to moderate demand and moderate offerings, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was 30¢ higher Thursday afternoon at $233.06/cwt. Select was 70¢ lower at $219.46. At $13.60, the Choice-Select spread was the widest since December.
Major U.S. financial indices strengthened Thursday, buoyed by positive quarterly earnings reports and an uptick in retail sales. The U.S. Census Bureau estimated March retail sales to be 1.6% more than the previous month, significantly higher than trade expectations.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 110 points higher. The S&P 500 closed 4 points higher. The NASDAQ was up 1 point.
The monthly Cattle on Feed report will likely be viewed as neutral to a touch bearish, with slightly more March placements and total cattle on feed than most pre-report estimates. The report is for feedlots with a one-time capacity of 1,000 head or more.
There were 2.01 million head placed on feed in March, which was 4.84% more (+93,000 head) than the previous year. In terms of placement weights: 16.14% (325,000) head went on feed weighing 600 lbs. or less; 14.89% (300,000 head) weighing 600-699 lbs.; 29.54% (595,000) weighing 700-799 lbs.; 26.76% (539,000 head) weighing 800-899 lbs.; 9.19% (185,000 head) weighing 900-999 lbs.; 3.48% (70,000 head) weighing 1,000 lbs. or more.
Marketings in March of 1.78 million head were 3.42% fewer (-63,000 head) than last year.
All told, there were 11.96 million head on feed Apr. 1, which was 2.00% more (+235,000 head) than a year earlier. That’s the largest inventory since the data series began in 1996. The inventory included 4.51 million heifers and heifer calves, which was 320,000 head more (+7.62%) than the same time a year earlier.