Although still $7-$8 lower than last week, dressed trade in the north rebounded from the previous day to mostly $160/cwt. on Thursday.
Cattle futures continued to be pressured by uncertainty regarding slowing beef production and how soon some sense of normalcy can return.
Except for 10¢ and 7¢ higher in two contracts, Live Cattle futures closed an average of 96¢ lower (20¢ lower to $3.00 lower in spot Apr).
Except for 95¢ and 60¢ higher in the front two contracts, Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $1.09 lower.
Wholesale beef values took another broad step higher Thursday, as demand continues to outpace declining supplies.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was $8.54 higher Thursday afternoon at a record high of $284.29/cwt. Select was $11.87 higher at $272.89.
Corn futures closed mostly 1¢ lower to 1¢ higher.
Soybean futures closed 2¢ to 4¢ higher through Sep ‘20, and then mostly 2¢ to 3¢ lower.
Major U.S. financial indices closed little changed Thursday, following wide gyrations during the session. Support included more recovery in crude oil prices, while pressure included another expected surge (4.43 million) in weekly initial jobless claims, according to the U.S. Labor Department.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 39 points higher. The S&P 500 closed 1 point lower. The NASDAQ closed fractionally lower.
How long beef packing plant production remains constrained by COVID-19 is the next unknown markets are pricing, says Stephen Koontz, agricultural economist at Colorado State University. He adds, “Some certainty to the course of the CORVID-19 pandemic will be needed to mitigate this risk.”
Although the inventory of long-fed cattle is climbing, in the most recent issue of In the Cattle Markets, Koontz says the uncertainty of pricing short-term needs and availability will be unclear for at least another month, given the fact that Friday’s Cattle on Feed report accounts for inventory at the first of April, with flows from March.
Incidentally, heading into the monthly Cattle on Feed report, analysts surveyed by Urner Barry, with data shared by the Daily Livestock Report see March placements down about 18%, March marketings 12% higher and the Apr. 1 on-feed inventory 5% less year over year.
“Fed cattle prices continue to soften and the impact of delayed marketings will weigh on the market until summer,” Koontz says.
In the meantime, carcass weights continue to be significantly heavier than last year’s depressed levels.
The average dressed steer weight for the week ending Apr. 11 was 886 lbs., according to USDA’s weekly Livestock Slaughter report. That was 3 lbs. lighter than the previous week, but 22 lbs. heavier than the previous year. The average dressed heifer weight was 826 lbs., which was 1 lb. heavier than the prior week and 24 lbs. heavier than the same week last year.