Negotiated cash fed cattle trade ranged from a standstill to limited on light demand through Friday afternoon, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service. Although too few to trend there were some trades in the western Corn Belt at $125/cwt. on a live basis and at $196 in the beef.
In established trade for the week, live prices were $3 higher in the Southern Plains at $120, $5-$7 higher in Nebraska at $125, $5 higher in the western Corn Belt at $123-$125 and $4-$7 higher in Colorado (compared to two weeks earlier) at $120-$123. Dressed prices were $5-$7 higher at $195.
Week to week on Thursday, the five-area direct average steer prices was $4.42 higher at $121.87. The average dressed steer price was $195.21, which was $6.53 higher.
Cattle futures closed lower Friday, amid active trade and likely profit taking from the strong week-to-week gains.
Live Cattle futures closed an average of $1.10 lower (22¢ to $2.45 lower), except for 62¢ higher in the back contract.
Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $1.55 lower (80¢ lower toward the back to $2.37 lower in spot Apr), except for 45¢ higher in the back contract.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was $1.67 higher Friday afternoon at $272.17/cwt. Select was 24¢ higher at $264.07.
Estimated total cattle slaughter the week ending Apr. 10 was 641,000 head, according to USDA, which was 32,000 head more than the previous week. Year-to-date estimated total cattle slaughter of 9.0 million head is 184,000 head fewer (-2.0%) than the same time last year. Estimated year-to-date beef production of 7.54 billion lbs. is 54.2 million lbs. less (-0.7%) than a year earlier.
Grain futures were mixed Friday, reacting to USDA’s monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (see below).
Corn futures closed mostly 1¢ to 3¢ higher, except for 2¢ lower in spot May.
Soybean futures closed 9¢ to 12¢ lower through the front six contracts, and then mostly 2¢ to 7¢ lower.
Major U.S. financial indices closed higher Friday. Support included optimism about the pace of domestic COVID-19 vaccinations and further reopening of the economy.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 297 points higher. The S&P 500 closed 31 points higher. The NASDAQ was up 70 points.
Logistical challenges continued to hamper U.S. beef exports in February, but they should increase as the year progresses, according to the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF).
Beef exports in February were 8% less in volume year over year at 103,493 metric tons (mt), according to data released by USDA and compiled by USMEF. Beef export value was 2% less at $669.5 million. The decline was due mainly to variety meat exports.
For the year, through February, U.S. beef exports are 5% less in volume and 2% less in value at $1.32 billion.
U.S. pork export volume in February was 12% less than a year earlier. Value was 13% less at $629.4 million.
“While February exports were in line with expectations, the results don’t fully reflect global demand for U.S. red meat,” says Dan Halstrom, USMEF president and CEO. “Logistical challenges, including congestion at some U.S. ports, are still a significant headwind. Tight labor supplies at the plant level continue to impact export volumes for certain products, including some variety meat items and labor-intensive muscle cuts.”
Halstrom notes that the flow of exports through U.S. ports is showing some gradual improvement as COVID-impacted crews move closer to full strength, but remains a serious concern for the U.S. agricultural sector.