Negotiated cash fed cattle trade was at a standstill in Colorado and the Texas Panhandle through Thursday afternoon. Elsewhere, trade was limited on light demand with too few transactions to trend.
For the week so far, trade is steady with last week on a live basis in the Southern Plains and Northern Plains at $114/cwt. Dressed trade in Nebraska is $2 lower at $180. Live sales in the western Corn Belt last week were at $114, with dressed trade at $182.
Cattle futures closed lower Thursday, pressured by the slog for higher cash prices and faltering outside markets. That was despite net U.S. export beef sales for the week ending Feb. 25 up noticeably from the previous week and up 15% from the prior four-week average at 22,600 metric tons (mt), according to the weekly U.S. Export Sales report from USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service.
Live Cattle futures closed an average of 41¢ lower, from 2¢ lower at the back to 85¢ lower in spot Apr.
Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $1.34 lower, from 75¢ lower at the back to $2.32 lower toward the front.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was 85¢ higher Thursday afternoon at $233.88/cwt. Select was $2.56 lower at $221.68.
The average dressed slaughter weight of 909 lbs. the week ending Feb. 20 was 10 lbs. less than the previous week, helped along by the recent winter storm. That was still 9 lbs. heavier year over year, according to the USDA Actual Slaughter Under Federal Inspection report. The average dressed heifer weight of 841 lbs. was 9 lbs. lighter than the previous week, but 10 lbs. heavier year over year. Fed cattle slaughter of 439,124 head was 49,097 head fewer (-10.05%) than the same week a year earlier.
Corn futures encountered some pressure in the front months, perhaps tied in part to the previously mentioned weekly U.S. Export Sales report.
Weekly net U.S. corn export sales of 115,900 mt for 2020-21 were a market-year low, down 74% from the previous week and down 96% from the previous four-week average. U.S. net soybean export sales of 334,000 mt were up noticeably from the previous week but 33% less than the previous four-week average.
Corn futures closed mostly 1¢ to 2¢ higher, except for 1¢ to 4¢ lower in the front three contracts.
Soybean futures closed 6¢ to 15¢ higher, except for 3¢ to 4¢ higher in the front five contracts.
Major U.S. financial indices closed sharply lower Thursday, with traders apparently rattled by Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell’s dovish remarks concerning recent inflation, which helped lift Treasury yield rates and depress bond prices.
On the other hand, crude oil futures continued to surge higher, tied to the OPEC announcement that it would maintain reduced production levels. West Texas Intermediate on the CME closed $2.13 to $2.55 higher through the front six contracts.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 345 points lower. The S&P 500 closed 51 points lower. The NASDAQ was down 274 points.
Recent data continues to paint a bleak picture for U.S. restaurant recovery, the nation’s second largest private sector employer.
“While many other industries have moved into a recovery phase, the restaurant industry ended last year in a double-dip recession and with 2.5 million fewer jobs. Between March 2020 and January 2021, restaurant and foodservice sales were down $255 billion from expected levels,” according to a letter to Congress from Sean Kennedy, Executive Vice President of the National Restaurant Association (NRA). The letter supported passage of the American Rescue Plan.
Kennedy shared highlights from a February NRA survey of 3,000 restaurant operators.
Among the survey findings:
The restaurant industry lost nearly 450,000 jobs between November of last year and January 2021, representing about 10% of the total jobs recovered during the first six months after the spring shutdowns. Eighty percent of operators say their current staffing level is lower than what it would normally be in the absence of COVID-19.
Consumer spending in restaurants remained well below pre-pandemic levels in January. Overall, 77% of restaurant operators say their total dollar sales volume in January was lower than in January 2020.
32% of restaurant operators think it will be 7 to 12 months before business conditions return to normal for their restaurant, while 29% think it will be more than a year. An additional 10% of operators say business conditions will never return to normal for their restaurant.
14% of restaurant operators say they will ‘probably’ or ‘definitely’ be closed within three months if there are no additional relief packages from the federal government.