Negotiated cash fed cattle trade and demand were light in Nebraska through Thursday afternoon. There were a few live purchases at mostly $124.00-126.50/cwt.; $6.00-$6.50 less than trades in the region earlier in the week. The few dressed sales there at $205-$208 were $5-$7 less than earlier-week sales, but too few transactions to trend in both cases. The bulk of live purchases in Nebraska for the week were on Monday at $132, while dressed purchases on Tuesday traded at $210-$215.
Following early support, front-month Live Cattle futures lost ground with bearish sentiment and a decline in wholesale beef values. Feeder Cattle futures, on the other hand, closed mixed with the strongest gains at the front of the board.
Live Cattle futures closed $2.00 lower in spot Jun, 37¢ and 10¢ lower in Aug and Oct, respectively, and then an average of 23¢ higher.
Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 80¢ higher through the front three contracts, an average of 22¢ higher in the next three and then 25¢ lower and unchanged at the back.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was $1.29 lower Thursday afternoon at $249.74/cwt. Select was 13¢ lower at $220.53.
Major U.S. financial indices closed lower on Thursday, pressured by renewed liquidation in tech stocks.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 14 points lower. The S&P 500 closed 5 points lower. The NASDAQ closed 29 points lower.
Dressed weights for steers and heifers slaughtered under Federal inspection declined 25 and 22 lbs., respectively, year over year (May NASS Livestock Slaughter report), according to the latest monthly Livestock, Dairy and Poultry Outlook from USDA’s Economic Research Service (ERS).
“The decrease in the average carcass weight more than offset the increase in the number of cattle slaughtered and kept production from increasing,” ERS analysts say. “The USDA report on beef production under Federal inspection for the week ending May 27 indicates that average dressed weights for steers and heifers continued to decline, falling another 9 and 13 lbs., respectively, from the week ending April 29. Weights are expected to move higher seasonally, but gains will likely be limited while there are incentives to market cattle as rapidly as possible.”
Third-quarter beef production is forecast at 6.8 billion lbs. after USDA revised projected commercial beef production down slightly for this year to 26.2 billion lbs.
“Relative price strength is likely to persist as demand for beef remains strong,” ERS analysts say. “However, as summer demand winds down, packer margins will likely decline and cattle prices will be pressured. Third-quarter fed cattle prices are expected to decline seasonally, averaging $118-$124 per cwt., up from $113.26 in third-quarter 2016.