Negotiated cash fed cattle prices were $2 higher in the Southern Plains Wednesday at $110/cwt., with moderate trade and demand, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service. Elsewhere, trade was slow on light to moderate demand. Although too few to trend, there were some early dressed sales in Nebraska and the western Corn Belt at $172; a few live sales in the western Corn Belt at $110. Trade in those regions last week was at mostly $105 on a live basis and mostly $165 in the beef.
Also on Wednesday, Central Stockyards hosted its weekly Fed Cattle Exchange auction with a new bidding platform. Cattle feeders offered 803 head. Of those, 545 head (four lots) sold for an average of $110/cwt. Cattle sold were all heifers and all from the Southern Plains. Three lots sold via Bid-the-GridTM; the other on a live basis.
Stronger week-to-week prices were also seen at the fat auction in Tama, IA where Choice steers and heifers traded $1.75 to $2.25 higher. There were 136 Choice 2-4 steers bringing an average price of $107.22/cwt.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was $3.13 lower at $207.54/cwt. Wednesday afternoon. Select was $1.66 lower at $197.93.
Net U.S. beef export sales of 6,000 metric tons for the week ending Dec. 17 were 40% less than the previous week, but up noticeably from the prior four-week average, according to USDA’s weekly U.S. Export Sales report. Increases were primarily for Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Canada and Hong Kong.
Cattle futures closed higher Wednesday, supported by stronger cash prices and a surge in Lean Hog futures, likely tied in part to the previous day’s friendly Cold Storage report. As well, the Quarterly Hogs and Pigs report that came out later in the day indicates the inventory of all hogs and pigs as of Dec. 1 was 1% less year over year; 3% lower for the breeding inventory.
Live Cattle futures closed an average of 97¢ higher from 65¢ higher toward the back to $1.60 higher in waning spot Dec.
Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 35¢ higher except for 15¢ lower in Oct.
Corn futures closed mostly 3¢ higher through Jly ‘22 and then mostly fractionally higher.
Soybean futures closed 5¢ to 11¢ higher through Aug ’21, and then mostly 3¢ to 7¢ lower.
Major U.S. financial indices closed mixed Wednesday. Primary uneasiness seemed tied to President Trump vetoing the Defense Bill and waiting to sign the Spending Bill, demanding more COVID-19 relief.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 114 points higher. The S&P 500 closed 2 points higher. The NASDAQ was down 38 points.
Higher feed costs are pressuring projected feedlot returns for the majority of the next nine months, according to the latest Historical and Projected Kansas Feedlot Net Returns from Kansas State University (KSU).
Keep in mind that the following projections assume no price risk management.
From December through August of next year, KSU projected positive returns in four months for fed steers: December, March, May and June. Projected returns range from +$14.99 per head in December to +$91.11 in May, with estimated feedlot cost of gain (FCOG) ranging from $84.67/cwt. (Dec.) to $91.11 in May.
Conversely, KSU projects losses in five of those nine months, ranging from -$6.28 per head in August to -$47.92 in July, with FCOG in those months ranging from $86.14/cwt. in January to $92.38 in April.
Projected fed steer return in November was $35.83 per head with an FCOG of $78.92/cwt.
Projected returns for fed heifers follow a similar path, with positive returns expected in December, March and May, ranging from +$11.90 per head in March to +$60.83 in May, with FCOG at $92.17 (Dec.) to $98.00 (May).
Negative fed heifer returns are projected in six of the nine months, from -$21.71 per head in June to -$100.99 in July, with FCOG from $94.59/cwt. in January to $100.48 in July.
Projected fed heifer return in November was $42.42 per head with FCOG of $85.41/cwt.