Negotiated cash fed cattle trade continued through Thursday afternoon, with limited to slow trade on light to moderate demand. For the week, live prices are $1-$2 higher on a live basis at $115/cwt. in the Southern Plains, $115-$116 in Nebraska and $116 in Colorado. Dressed trade in Nebraska is $3-$5 higher at $185. Trade was yet to be established in the western Corn Belt.
Cattle futures continued mostly higher Thursday, supported by stronger cash prices and wholesale beef values.
Net U.S. beef export sales of 18,900 metric tons for the week ending Mar. 18 were 27% less than the previous week but 3% more than the prior four-week average, according to the weekly U.S. Export Sales report. Increases were primarily for Japan, South Korea, China, Taiwan and Chile.
Live Cattle futures closed an average of 45¢ higher through the front five contracts, and then unchanged to an average of 18¢ lower.
Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 98¢ higher, from 37¢ to $1.80 higher.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was $1.61 higher Thursday afternoon at $236.45/cwt. Select was $2.18 higher at $226.25.
The average dressed steer weight of 904 lbs. was 4 lbs. heavier than the prior week and 3 lbs. heavier than the previous year, according to USDA’s Actual Slaughter Under Federal Inspection report for the week ending Mar. 13. The average dressed heifer weight of 832 lbs. was 1 lb. lighter than the previous week and 3 lbs. lighter than the previous year.
Corn futures closed mostly 2¢ to 4¢ lower.
Soybean futures closed 10¢ to 18¢ lower.
Major U.S. financial indices closed higher Thursday, in a late-session surge, supported by more positive labor data than the trade expected. Weekly initial unemployment insurance claims the week ending Mar, 20 were 684,000, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. That was 97,000 fewer than the previous week.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 199 points higher. The S&P 500 closed 20 points higher. The NASDAQ was up 15 points.
Persistently and bullishly strong Lean Hog futures continue offering support to beef, tied in part to speculation whether China’s hog herd rebuilding from African Swine Fever is going as well as that government’s reports claim.
“While China’s governmental inventory data as of December 2020 show sow and hog inventory were 92.1% and 93.1% of their respective 2017 levels (MARAC 2021), recent record-high piglet, sow, hog, and pork prices suggest a large persistent supply shortage,” say analysts with the Center for Agricultural Research and Development (CARD) at Iowa State University.
“China’s record pork and live swine imports in 2020 suggest that China’s hog rebuilding might be fast but of low genetic quality. Specifically, it seems likely that the retention of low-quality commercial generation gilts helped rebuild the herd but set back the national breeding system by abandoning purebred grandparents and parent generation propagation (Dim Sums 2021).”
In CARD’s winter Agricultural Policy Review—Is China’s Hog Rebuilding Complete? Reconciling Inventory and Price Data—analysts explain China’s recently launched Live Hog futures also suggest traders expect prices to remain elevated into 2022.