Negotiated cash fed cattle trade remained undeveloped through late Friday afternoon, based on USDA reports, which cited a few trades in Nebraska and the western Corn Belt at $124-$125/cwt. on a live basis. The Agricultural Marketing Service reported dressed sales $2 higher in Nebraska at $200. Chatter increased that trade was headed higher by the end of the day.
Expectations of steady to higher cash and firm fundamentals helped lift Cattle futures Friday. Those fundamentals include winter-depressed cattle weights.
Dressed steers weights for the week ending Jan. 5 were 6 lbs. lighter year over year at 896 lbs., according to the Actual Slaughter Under Federal Inspection report from USDA. Dressed heifer weights were 8 lbs. lighter at 892 lbs. A week earlier, year over year, dressed steer weights were 9 lbs. lighter and dressed heifer weights were 13 lbs. lighter.
As well, the slug of USDA reports released Friday—offering the year’s first grain supply and usage estimates—proved to be market neutral.
Live Cattle futures closed 61¢ higher (10¢ to $1.10 higher).
Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 74¢ higher (50¢ to $1.02 higher).
Corn futures closed mostly fractionally lower to 2¢ lower.
Soybean futures closed mostly 1¢ higher.
Wholesale beef values were weak to lower on light demand and light to moderate offerings, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was $1.36 lower Friday afternoon at $215.35/cwt. Select was 36¢ lower at $211.17.
Major U.S. financial indices closed narrowly mixed Friday, recovering from strong pressure early in the session, tied to lingering worries about the lack of resolution to trade issues between the U.S. and China.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 63 points lower. The S&P 500 closed 1 point higher. The NASDAQ was up 9 points.
“Beef production (2018) is reduced on lower cattle slaughter and lighter carcass weights through late December,” say ERS analysts, in the latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE). “The 2019 beef production forecast is reduced on lower projected slaughter as smaller anticipated placements in late 2018 and early 2019 are expected to result in lower fed cattle marketings and slaughter in the first half of the year.”
The annual average fed steer price (5-area Direct) for last year was estimated at $117.12/cwt., which was 21¢ higher than the December projection.
Fed steer prices for this year are estimated at $122-$126 in the first quarter, $119-$127 in the second, $109-$119 in the third and at $108-$118 in the fourth.
Total beef production for last year was revised down 75 million lbs. from the December estimate to 26.86 billion lbs. Likewise, estimated beef production for this year was revised down by 175 million lbs. to 27.61 billion lbs.
“Total red meat and poultry production for 2018 was lowered from December as beef and broiler production more than offsets slightly higher pork production,” say ERS analysts. “For 2019, the total red meat and poultry production forecast is lowered from December on lower expected beef, pork, and broiler production.”