Negotiated cash fed cattle trade was at a standstill in the Northern Plains through Wednesday afternoon. Elsewhere, it was mostly inactive on very light demand, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service.
Cattle feeders offered 1,142 head (mostly from the Southern Plains) in Central Stockyards weekly Fed Cattle Exchange auction on Wednesday. One lot of Southern Plains heifers (42 head) sold for a weighted average price of $112/cwt., via Bid-The-Grid™, which was steady with last week’s country trade in the region.
Likewise, fed steers and heifers traded mostly steady at Sioux Falls Regional’s fat auction. There were 301 head of Choice 3-4 steers weighing an average of 1,559 lbs., bringing an average price of $110.76. Country trade in the region last week was at $110-$112.
Cattle futures closed mixed Wednesday, with Live Cattle firming, while Feeder Cattle were pressured by higher grain prices.
Live Cattle futures closed an average of 40¢ higher, except for 5¢ lower and 60¢ lower on either end of the board.
Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 68¢ lower.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was 63¢ lower Wednesday afternoon at $205.27/cwt. Select was 41¢ lower at $196.08.
Corn futures closed mostly 2¢ to 3¢ higher.
Soybean futures closed mostly 11¢ to 14¢ higher.
Except for tech stocks, major U.S. financial indices closed higher Wednesday with investors apparently expecting more economic stimulus and government spending under a Biden administration.
As for known reality, private sector employment decreased by 123,000 jobs from November to December according to the December ADP National Employment Report®. The trade was expecting a month-to-month gain.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 437 points higher. The S&P 500 closed 21 points higher. The NASDAQ was down 78 points.
Typical beef export seasonality, further potential pandemic disruptions and plentiful fed cattle supplies could test domestic consumer beef demand in the first quarter.
In the latest issue of In the Cattle Markets, Elliott Dennis, livestock economist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln explains, historically, first-quarter beef export quantities are seasonally lower and more inconsistent than in other quarters; they’re highest and most consistent in the second quarter.
“Local, domestic, and international changes in slaughter rates, supplies of substitute meat products, and consumer beef preferences all influence the domestic wholesale beef price and eventually each country’s desire to import U.S. beef,” Dennis explains.
Production and demand disruptions wrought by the pandemic weighed on U.S. beef exports for much of last year but appeared to be regaining momentum in the fourth quarter.
Through October, U.S. beef exports were 7% less in volume (1.02 million metric tons), compared to the same period a year earlier, according to data released by USDA and compiled by the U.S. Meat Export Federation. Value of January-October beef exports was 8% less than the prior year at $6.2 billion.
“The domestic market likely needs to be the driver of working through wholesale meat supplies in the first quarter,” Dennis says. “Drawing from 2020, the market’s ability to do so could be hindered by meatpacking plant shutdowns (recent example in Guelph, Canada) and government restrictions on social gatherings (increased restrictions in New York State). A positive is that the U.S.-Japan, U.S.-Korea, U.S.-China, and USMCA trade deals are still in place for the time being. Whether we enter round 2 of the U.S.-China trade deal and whether China imports already-committed U.S. beef is more uncertain, given the anticipated change in the presidency.”