Negotiated cash fed cattle trade was a standstill in the five-area marketing region through Monday afternoon, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service. Live sales last week were at $108/cwt. in the Southern Plains, $106-$107 in Nebraska and at $104-$105 in the western Corn Belt. Dressed trade was at mostly $168.
The five-area direct weighted average steer price last week was $106.75 on a live basis, which was $3 less than the previous week. The average steer price in the beef of $167.77 was $4.52 lower.
Cattle futures closed narrowly mixed Monday, amid sluggish activity and awaiting cash direction, especially given last week’s disappointing trade in terms of both price and volume. However, they retained the lion’s share of gains made in the previous session.
Live Cattle futures closed narrowly mixed, from an average of 17¢ lower to unchanged to an average of 17¢ higher.
Feeder Cattle futures closed narrowly mixed, from an average of 17¢ lower to an average of 19¢ higher.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was $4.19 lower Monday at $209.69/cwt. Select was $3.41 lower at $192.30.
Corn futures closed mostly unchanged to fractionally mixed, except for 5¢ lower in spot Dec.
Soybean futures closed mostly 4¢ to 9¢ higher.
Major U.S. financial indices closed mixed Monday. Apparently, optimism about the rollout of a COVID-19 vaccine was overshadowed by concerns that increasing coronavirus infections will foster stricter pandemic restrictions in the meantime, which will weigh on economic recovery.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 184 points lower. The S&P 500 closed 15 points lower, but The NASDAQ was up 62 points.
“China has been a rapidly growing market for global beef imports in recent years and is the largest beef importing country since 2018. This reflects underlying growth in beef demand in China, accentuated by the protein shortages due to ASF (African Swine Fever). China has been a minor market for U.S. beef but is growing rapidly,” says Derrell Peel, Extension livestock marketing specialist at Oklahoma State University. “The China share of U.S. beef exports exceeded 1% for the first time in 2019 and is the number seven beef export market at 2.9% of total beef exports thus far in 2020. Beef consumption in China is expected to continue growing and, assuming no additional political disruptions, China could be one of the top exports markets for U.S. beef in the next couple of years.”
Peel details the evolution of global animal protein markets in his latest weekly market comments. This year, he says evolution is driven by ongoing trends as well as COVID-19 impacts.
“Mexico is arguably the market most impacted by COVID-19 from a U.S., and specifically, a beef, perspective,” Peel says. “Exports of beef to Mexico are down 37.9% year over year, with declines from last year for every month in 2020. Mexico is suffering a devastating recession, the result of current federal policies aggravated by the pandemic.”
For overall perspective, Peel explains U.S. beef exports were 5.3% less year over year through October, while U.S. pork exports were 19.9% more, mostly due to Chinese demand. He adds that U.S. broiler exports were 4.2% more year over year.
Further back in the supply chain and closer to home, analysts with the Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC) point out North American cattle trade is generally higher year over year, despite pandemic disruptions.
Through October, total cattle imports to the U.S. from Mexico and Canada of nearly 1.73 million head were 6.4% more year over year.
“Shipments from Mexico account for the majority of the increase with a 14.6% rise year-to-date to almost 1.17 million head,” say LMIC analysts, in the latest Livestock Monitor. “Cattle shipments from Canada are down 7.4% through October totaling 561,654 head. Mexico primarily supplies feeder cattle destined for backgrounding operations or placement while Canadian cattle are typically market-ready cattle for slaughter.”
On the other end of the trade, year-over-year U.S. cattle exports to Canada and Mexico of 242,892 head were 2.7% more; 0.6% less to Canada but 21.2% more to Mexico.
“Most of the cattle exported to Mexico this year have been classified as cattle other than purebred breeding animals which means they are likely slaughter-ready cattle,” say LMIC analysts.