Negotiated cash fed cattle trade remained undeveloped through Thursday afternoon.
Despite the lack of cash direction and recent softness, limit-up moves across most Lean Hog contracts helped buoy Cattle futures.
Live Cattle futures closed an average of 48¢ higher. Open interest continued its recent steep decline with 61,318 fewer contracts (-15.3%) between Jan. 21 and Feb. 5.
Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 93¢ higher (22¢ to $1.52. higher).
Wholesale beef values were steady on Choice and lower on Select with light to moderate demand and moderate offerings, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was 21¢ higher Thursday afternoon at $210.93/cwt. Select was $1.98 lower at $205.96.
Corn futures closed mostly 1¢ to 3¢ lower.
Soybean futures closed 1¢ to 2¢ lower.
Major U.S. financial indices extended gains on Thursday, buoyed by cooling fears about the impact of novel coronavirus and reports of China’s announcement it will halve tariffs on $75 billion worth of U.S. imports, as part of the phase-one trade agreement.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 88 points higher. The S&P 500 closed 11 points higher. The NASDAQ was up 63 points.
U.S. beef exports last year totaled 1.32 million metric tons (mt), 2.5% below the previous year’s record volume, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF). Beef export value was 3% less at $8.1 billion. Beef export value per head of fed slaughter last year was $309.75, down 4%.
USMEF attributes part of the decline to decreased exports to Japan, borne by the tariff disadvantage of the U.S., compared to its competitors. U.S. beef exports to Japan were 6% less in both volume (311,146 mt) and value ($1.95 billion). Recent ratification of a new trade agreement by the Japanese Parliament should offer some relief. As of Jan. 1, the tariff rate declined from 38.5% to 26.6%, the same as other major competitors, according to USMEF. There will be another rate cut April 1.
“It was gratifying to see beef exports to Japan perform so well in December, given that the first tariff rate cut was pending,” Halstrom says. “Buyers in Japan have been waiting a very long time for tariff relief and have already responded enthusiastically. We look forward to solid growth in 2020 and beyond.”
South Korea made a strong push to become the leading value market for U.S. beef in 2019, finishing a close second to Japan at a record $1.84 billion (up 5% from a year earlier). Korea was also the second largest volume market for U.S. beef at 255,758 mt (up 7%, also a new record). The United States captured a larger share of Korea’s chilled beef imports in 2019 at 62%, up from 58% the previous year. U.S. beef accounted for 51.5% of Korea’s total beef and beef variety meat imports and more than one-third of Korea’s total beef consumption.
“U.S. beef is achieving remarkable success in Korea’s traditional retail and foodservice sectors and is well-positioned to capitalize on growth in e-commerce, the institutional sector and other emerging sales channels,” Halstrom explains. “As U.S. beef moves steadily toward duty-free status in Korea, it becomes accessible and affordable for a wider range of customers whose appetite for U.S. beef continues to grow. We are seeing many new menu concepts in this dynamic market and continued excitement about U.S. beef.”
Pork Exports Record Large
U.S. pork exports posted new volume and value records in 2019, 10% more than the previous year in volume (2.67 million mt) and 9% higher in value ($6.95 billion).
“Despite retaliatory duties and the other barriers U.S. pork faces in China, exports to the China/Hong Kong region closed 2019 with tremendous momentum,” Halstrom says. “We look forward to continued success in 2020, especially if U.S.-China trade relations continue to trend in a positive direction. The coronavirus situation is certainly concerning and disruptive, but it hasn’t dampened our enthusiasm for the potential this market holds for U.S. red meat.”