Negotiated cash fed cattle trade, undeveloped through Thursday afternoon, is setting up to be another late or after-hour affair again this week.
Live Cattle futures mostly tread water, while continued anemic trade, likely month-end position squaring and pessimism about growing fed cattle supplies later in the year helped pressure Feeder Cattle.
Other than 55¢ higher in spot Feb and unchanged in Jun, Live Cattle futures closed an average of 19¢ lower.
Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $1.03 lower through the front three contracts and then an average of 27¢ lower, except for 12¢ higher in Nov.
Corn futures closed mostly 2¢ to 3¢ lower.
Soybean futures closed mostly 3¢ to 6¢ lower.
Wholesale beef values were firm on Choice and sharply higher on Select with moderate to fairly good demand and light to moderate offerings, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was 49¢ higher Thursday afternoon at $219.95/cwt. Select was $2.48 higher at $215.27.
Major U.S. financial indices closed lower Thursday, presumably on failed talks between the U.S. and North Korea, regarding the latter’s nuclear weapons.
Pessimism came despite stronger domestic economic growth in the fourth quarter than many expected. Real gross domestic product (GDP) increased at an annual rate of 2.6% in the fourth quarter of 2018, according to the initial estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the third quarter, real GDP increased 3.4%.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 69 points lower. The S&P 500 closed 7 points lower. The NASDAQ was down 22 points.
Cow-Calf producers continued to expand the nation’s beef cowherd last year by close to 1%, according to the delayed Cattle report issued by USDA on Thursday.
Specifically, 31.77 million beef cows Jan. 1 were 299,500 more than a year earlier or 0.95% more.
Of the eight states with more than 1 million beef cows, five began this year with more numbers: 135,000 head more in Texas (+2.99%); 67,000 head more in South Dakota (+3.83%); 62,000 head more in Oklahoma (+2.97%); 31,000 head more in Nebraska (+1.62%); 25,000 head more in Kansas (+1.67%).
As expected at this stage of the cattle cycle—expansion nearing the plateau—producers are retaining fewer replacements: 5.92 million beef replacement heifers Jan. 1 were 183,300 head fewer than a year earlier or 3.0% less.
States with the most year-to-year growth in beef replacement retention included: Florida, Michigan, North Dakota, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee and Washington.
The total inventory of all cattle and calves Jan. 1 of 94.76 million head were 461,700 more than a year earlier or 0.49% more
Estimated feeder cattle supply (cattle outside feedlots) of 26.38 million head was 0.98% more (+255,400 head) than Jan. 1 a year earlier.
By and large, estimates ahead of the report were in line with USDA estimates or a touch more conservative.
One more thing, despite tough, wet conditions for planting winter wheat, the 1.9 million head grazing small grain pastures in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas is 400,000 head more (+26.67%) than a year earlier.