Cattle futures closed mixed amid a volatile trading session, with fairly active trade in Live Cattle and the previous session’s increased open interest.
Live Cattle futures closed an average of $2.34 lower in the front three contract, (30¢ lower to $4.50 lower in spot Apr), but then an average of $1.04 higher (55¢ higher to $1.70 higher), except for unchanged in the back contract.
Except for 75¢ higher in the back contract, Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $2.07 lower, (90¢ lower to $3.55 lower).
Wholesale beef values were lower to sharply lower on light demand and offerings, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was $2.20 lower Friday afternoon at $230.44/cwt. Select was $6.28 lower at $215.84.
After 1¢ to 2¢ lower in the front two contracts, Corn futures closed mostly fractionally higher.
Soybean futures closed 2¢ to 4¢ lower.
Major U.S. financial indices closed lower Friday, despite further gains in energy markets.
West Texas Intermediate Crude Oil futures on the CME closed $1.62 to $3.02 higher through the front six contracts. That was $3.10 to $8.03 higher over the last two sessions.
Although expected, the bearish monthly employment report weighed on markets. Total non-farm payroll employment fell by 701,000 month to month in March, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The unemployment rate rose to 4.4%. Average hourly earnings for all employees on private non-farm payrolls increased by 11¢ to $28.62. Over the past 12 months, average hourly earnings increased 3.1%.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 360 points lower. The S&P 500 closed 38 points lower. The NASDAQ was down 114 points.
Despite global challenges stemming from COVID-19, U.S. beef exports in February were 18% more year over year in volume at 112,021 metric tons (mt) and 17% more in value at $681 million, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Beef exports are on a record pace through the first two months of 2020, up 10% in volume and 11% in value at $1.35 billion.
Beef export value per head of fed slaughter was $343.03 in February, up 11% from a year earlier and the highest since December 2018. The January-February average was 7% higher at $321.86.
Export results confirmed that global demand for high-quality protein remains strong and resilient, according to Dan Halstrom, USMEF President and CEO.
“By February, COVID-19 had emerged as a major health concern in several key Asian markets and was certainly impacting consumer and business activity, so it is great to see U.S. pork and beef exports achieve such strong growth,” Halstrom says. “Obviously these are uncertain economic times and the road ahead remains very challenging, but these results are really a great testament to our international customer base. In the face of unprecedented obstacles, importers, retailers and restaurateurs are finding creative ways to meet consumer needs, and with record production the U.S. industry is well-positioned as a supplier. While we are in an unusual business climate that requires a lot of flexibility and innovation, there are excellent opportunities for red meat exports to continue to build momentum.”
U.S. pork exports are also off to a record pace this year. They were 46% higher for volume in February at 273,056 mt, the third largest on record for the month. U.S. pork export value was 59% more than a year earlier at $726.6 million. For the first two months of the year, pork exports exceeded last year’s pace by 41% in volume and 54% in value at $1.47 billion.
February Beef Export Highlights
Mainstay Asian markets Japan, South Korea and Taiwan fueled beef export growth in February, but shipments also increased to key destinations in the Western Hemisphere, Africa and the Middle East.
February beef exports to leading market Japan increased 24% in volume from a year ago to 27,099 mt and climbed 20% in value to $171.4 million. Through February, exports exceeded last year’s pace by 10% in volume and 7% in value at $329.5 million.
Demand for U.S. beef continued to build momentum in Korea, where February exports were 33% more than last year in volume at 23,532 mt and 32% more in value at $167.7 million. Volume through the first two months of the year is 16% ahead of last year’s record; 14% higher in value at $298.4 million.
U.S. beef exports in February to Mexico were 5% more last year for volume at 41,862 mt, and 10% more in value at $217 million. Mexico is the largest volume market for U.S. beef variety meat, and January-February variety meat exports climbed 16% from a year ago in both volume (18,182 mt) and value ($49.3 million).
February U.S. beef export to China were 12% more year over year at 1,408 mt. Value was 4% more at $10.4 million. USMEF expects momentum to build for U.S. beef in the world’s largest import market, due to expanded market access.