Negotiated cash fed cattle trade was slow on light demand in all major cattle feeding regions through Thursday afternoon, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service. There were a few live trades in Nebraska, but too few to trend.
For the week so far, live trade in the Southern Plains is steady at $114/cwt. Dressed trade is steady to $2 higher at $180 in Nebraska and the western Corn Belt. Live trade in the latter two regions last week was at $112-$114.
Cattle futures closed narrowly mixed on Thursday.
Live Cattle futures closed an average of 52¢ higher, except for 80¢ lower in spot Feb.
Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 20¢ lower, except for unchanged to an average of 9¢ higher in three contracts.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was 6¢ lower through Thursday afternoon at $232.96/cwt. Select was 67¢ lower at $220.29.
The average dressed steer weight the week ending Jan. 30 was 920 lbs., which was 6 lbs. lighter than the previous week but 23 lbs. heavier than the same week a year earlier, according to USDA’s Actual Slaughter Under Federal Inspection report. The average dressed heifer weight of 853 lbs. was 2 lbs. heavier than the prior week and 20 lbs. heavier than the previous year.
Grain futures recovered some gains from the previous session’s steep decline as markets continue carving out a trading range.
Corn futures closed 6¢ to 7¢ higher through the front three contracts, and then 1¢ to 4¢ higher.
Soybean futures closed 10¢ to 15¢ higher through Nov ‘21, and then mostly 3¢ to 5¢ higher.
Major U.S. financial indices closed narrowly mixed Thursday. Pressure included softer energy prices and more jobless claims than the trade expected.
Initial unemployment insurance claims for the week ending Feb. 6 were 793,000, which was 19,000 fewer than the previous week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 7 points lower. The S&P 500 was up 6 points. The NASDAQ was up 53 points.
USDA’s latest Feed Outlook provides perspective on the global demand fueling higher grain prices.
For instance, the latest estimate for 2020-21 U.S. corn exports of 2,600 million bu. would be the most ever and 162 million bu. more than the previous record set in 2017-18.
“Export prospects improved due to increased shipments to China this year, culminating in 38.8 million bu. in December to that country, as reported by the Census Bureau,” according to analysts with USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS). “September through December shipments to China reached 124 million bu., compared with less than a million during the same period in 2019-20. Total U.S. exports through December are 628 million bu., compared with 371 million during the same period in 2019-20. USDA Agriculture Marketing Service Export Inspections through Feb. 4 indicate a strong pace of exports since the New Year.”
ERS projects China will import 40.3 million tons of corn, barley, oats, and sorghum in 2020-21, more than double what that nation imported in 2019-20. Analysts cite high domestic prices and strong demand from that nation’s livestock sector as drivers to the increase.
“This change—coupled with lower coarse grain production and exports in the Black Sea region of Europe, due to hot and dry growing conditions in several key production regions—has substantially impacted 2020-21 feed grain trade,” say ERS analysts. “Price levels across the world are substantially higher than they were a year ago. China has increased its market share of trade for nearly every feed-grain commodity in 2020-21. Other significant import markets have seen their import outlooks reduced due to higher prices and increased competition.”