Negotiated cash fed cattle prices ended the week generally $1-$2 higher on a live basis at $97/cwt. in the Southern Plains, $100 in Nebraska, $98 in Colorado and steady at $101-$102 in the western Corn Belt. Dressed prices were $2 higher at $160.
Through Thursday, the average five-area direct weighted steer prices was $98.49/cwt. on a live basis, which was $1.26 more than the previous week, but $15.48 less than the same time last year. The average dressed steer price of $160.02 was $1.92 higher than the previous week, but $24.49 less than the previous year.
Cattle futures closed higher again Friday, helped along by cash strength, as well as week-end and month-end positioning and book squaring.
Live Cattle futures closed an average of $1.01 higher.
Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $1.63 higher.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was $1.46 higher Friday afternoon at $203.26/cwt. Select was $1.61 lower at $189.89.
Corn futures closed mostly fractionally higher.
Soybean futures closed 2¢ to 4¢ higher.
Major U.S. financial indices closed higher Friday, at the end of a volatile session, but supported by bullish quarterly earnings posted by big tech stocks.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 114 points higher. The S&P 500 closed 24 points higher. The NASDAQ closed 157 points higher.
“Federally inspected beef production has been above year-ago levels since the second week of June, while federally inspected cattle slaughter is down nearly 70,000 head over the same timeframe, compared to last year,” explains Andrew P. Griffith, agricultural economist at the University of Tennessee, in his weekly market comments. “The increase in beef production stems from heavier cattle that spent more days on feed than was anticipated.”
The average dressed steer weight the week ending July 18 of 899 lbs. was 3 lbs. less than the prior week but 33 lbs. more than the same week a year earlier, according to USDA’s Actual Slaughter Under Federal Inspection report. The average dressed heifer weight of 829 lbs. was the same as a week earlier but 34 lbs. heavier than the prior year.
At the same time, the percentage of fed cattle grading Choice and Prime continues to grow, relative to the same time last year.
Griffith notes only 0.7% more cattle graded Choice through the first 23 weeks of this year, compared to the same time in 2019. But, 2.4% more graded Choice year over year during the past six weeks.
More broadly, according to weekly USDA National Steer and Heifer Estimated Grading Percent reports, from the week ending May 2 through the week ending July 18, 70.60% to 73.58% graded Choice each week, compared to 69.59% to 71.63% for the same weeks last year.
For the same period of time this year, carcasses grading Choice and Prime ranged from 81.89% to 84.34% each week, compared to 77.11% to 78.82% last year.
“This year-over-year increase is likely to continue through the end of the year, which means more Choice beef on the market. This may keep the Choice-Select spread in check the next several months compared to last year’s wide spread,” Griffith says.