Cattle feeders and beef packers appeared to remain mostly at a stalemate through late Friday afternoon, based on USDA reports.
“Negotiated cash trade followed a similar trend compared to recent weeks with early dressed purchases in the North ranging from $183 to $185/cwt. Dressed purchases late in the week traded mostly at $180,” said analysts with the Agricultural Marketing Service on Friday. “In the Western Corn Belt, early live purchases traded at $114-$115. Early live purchases in Nebraska were at $113.” They add that trade was slow to develop in the Southern Plains with producers passing on bids of $109.
Stronger corn prices early in the session and sluggish trade weighed on Feeder Cattle futures, while Live Cattle paddled in place.
Other than 10¢ higher and unchanged in the front two contracts, Live Cattle futures closed an average of 19¢ lower.
Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $1.16 lower.
Wholesale beef values were weak on Choice and higher on Select with light to moderate demand and offerings, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was 51¢ lower Friday afternoon at $216.37/cwt. Select was $1.44 higher at $193.81.
“Grain traders spent most of the day repositioning themselves ahead of the highly anticipated Monday report,” say analysts with USDA’s Agricultural marketing Service (AMS). “There is a wide range of estimates for corn: 83.5 to 89.8 million acres planted, down from 91.7 million acres first reported for corn in June. Soybean estimates range from 78.0 to 83.5 million acres planted. The June report had soybean acres at 80 million. The WASDE report plus the re-survey of June acres report is set to be released at 11 a.m. CDT Monday.”
Corn futures closed fractionally mixed.
Soybean futures closed 7¢ to 8¢ higher, up 19¢ to 24¢ in the last two sessions.
Major U.S. financial indices closed lower Friday, but well off session lows, ending a wildly volatile week of trading, due mainly to the trade jabs between the U.S. and China.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 90 points lower. The S&P 500 closed 19 points lower. The NASDAQ was down 80 points.
“Restaurants, food service providers, and grocery stores are making final preparations for beef purchases to meet Labor Day weekend beef demand,” says Andrew P. Griffith, agricultural economist at the University of Tennessee, in his weekly market comments. “Labor Day weekend marks the unofficial end of summer and the end of the summer grilling season. This holiday provides the beef industry one last opportunity to push high-valued cuts out the door and on to consumers’ plates.”
Consumers can choose from lots of quality, too. Although the percentage of Choice-grading carcasses sagged below year-earlier levels in recent weeks, Griffith points out the level remains high, compared to recent years, dropping below 70% only two weeks this year.
In fact, for May through July, the percentage of fed cattle grading Choice ranged from 69.6% to 71.6%, according to USDA’s weekly National Steer and Heifer Estimated Grading Percent reports. For Choice and Prime combined, the range was 77.1% to 78.8%. During the same period, 30.1% to 31.9% of carcasses graded in the upper two-thirds of Choice.
“The market continues to demand higher quality beef and cattle producers continue to find ways to improve quality grade in cattle,” Griffith says. “The consumer trend to higher quality beef is likely to continue.”