Negotiated cash fed cattle trade continued steady to firm Thursday with live sales at $124/cwt. in Nebraska and at $125 in the western Corn Belt. Dressed sales were at $199 in Nebraska and at $198.00-$199.50 in the western Corn Belt. For the week, live sales in the Southern Plains also were steady at $124.
Cattle futures weakened, though, closing down triple digits, amid active trade. Pressure could have included the bounce higher in nearby Corn futures, demand wonderments related to the global spread of the coronavirus, as well as positioning ahead of the monthly Cattle on Feed report (see below) that will be released Friday afternoon. Definitive explanations were elusive, though.
Live Cattle futures close an average of $1.88 lower.
Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $2.40 lower for an average of $3.47 lower in the last two sessions.
Wholesale beef values were firm on Choice and lower on Select, with light to moderate demand and offerings, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was 36¢ higher Thursday afternoon at $215.32/cwt. Select was 82¢ lower at $211.20.
Corn futures closed 4¢ to 5¢ higher through the front three contracts and then mostly 1¢ to 2¢ higher.
Soybean futures closed 3¢ to 4¢ lower in the front six contracts and then mostly 1¢ to 4¢ higher.
Major U.S. financial indices closed narrowly mixed Thursday. Most of the unease seemed to continue to stem from the spread of novel coronavirus. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) offered some optimism in a statement.
“On 22 January, the members of the Emergency Committee expressed divergent views on whether this event constitutes a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) or not,” according to the statement. “At that time, the advice was that the event did not constitute a PHEIC, but the Committee members agreed on the urgency of the situation and suggested that the Committee should be reconvened in a matter of days to examine the situation further.”
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 26 points lower. The S&P 500 closed 3 points higher. The NASDAQ was up 18 points.
Heading into Friday’s monthly Cattle on Feed report, analysts surveyed by Urner Barry expected, on average, December feedlot placements to be 3.3% higher year over year, according to the Daily Livestock Report.
Those analysts expect to see December marketings up 5.3% and total cattle on feed Jan. 1—in feedlots with 1,000 head or more capacity—to be up 2.1%.
In the meantime, cattle feeding economics grow more positive, according to the most recent Historical and Projected Kansas Feedlot Net Returns, from Kansas State University.
Net returns projected for closeouts in December are +$51.13 per head for steers and +$40.44 per head for heifers, according to the report. That’s with estimated feedlot cost of gain (FCOG) of $89.49/cwt. for steers and $95.78 for heifers.
Moreover, the report projects positive net returns for steers in six of the next eight months, counting January with a range of -$12.44 (June) to +$122.26 (January) with FCOG of $85.75 (July) to $94.77 (February).
KSU projects positive net returns for heifers in the next eight months, ranging from +$3.60 (August) to +$146.75 (January) with FCOG of $93.01 (August) to $99.88 (February).
Keep in mind that these estimates are cash to cash and do not account for price risk management.