A break in Corn futures prices and improving supply fundamentals helped Feeder Cattle futures close an average of 79¢ higher Tuesday (37¢ to $1.10 higher), except for 27¢ lower in the waning spot month.
Corn futures closed 5¢ to 6¢ lower through near Jly and then mostly 1¢ lower.
Soybean futures closed mostly 4¢ to 5¢ lower through Sep ‘23 and then 2¢ to 7¢ lower.
Incidentally, with most of the winter wheat in the ground as of Nov. 14, there was 46% rated as Good (39%) or Excellent (7%), according to the latest USDA Crop Progress report. That was on par with the same time last year.
Despite recently stronger cash prices, Live Cattle futures closed narrowly mixed again — from an average of 15¢ lower in five contracts to an average of 17¢ higher — with pressure from the lack of cash direction and what appear to have been peak wholesale beef prices for the season.
Negotiated cash fed cattle trade was mostly inactive on light demand in all major cattle feeding regions through Tuesday afternoon. There were too few transactions to trend, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service.
Prices last week were at $132/cwt. on a live basis in the Northern Plains, the Southern Plains and Colorado. They were $131-$132 in the western Corn Belt. Dressed prices were at $207.
Early indications suggest prices no worse than steady this week.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was $1.07 lower Tuesday afternoon at $282.13/cwt. Select was 69¢ lower at $266.59/cwt.
Major U.S. financial indices closed higher Tuesday, on the back of robust U.S. retail sales in October.
Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for October — adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes — were 1.7% more month to month at $638.2 billion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. That was 16.3% more than a year earlier.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 54 points higher. The S&P 500 closed 18 points higher. The NASDAQ was up 120 points.
With global demand for U.S. red meat surging and exports on a record pace this year, Dan Halstrom, president and CEO of the U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) says the severity of current transportation challenges can’t be overstated.
That was among many topics discussed at last week’s USMEF Strategic Planning Conference and Board of Directors Meeting, where panelists provided insight to the logistical challenges exporters face when moving chilled and frozen product through West Coast ports.
Veteran logistics journalist Bill Mongelluzzo, trans-Pacific senior editor at Journal of Commerce, noted that media outlets too often describe current shipping difficulties as gridlock, which misrepresents the situation and draws attention only to the number of vessels waiting at anchor.
“Gridlock means nothing is moving, when in fact the Port of Long Beach and other ports are moving record or near-record volumes of cargo every month, Mongelluzzo explained. “This has gone on for 16 consecutive months beginning in July 2020. The big issue right now are the warehouses – not just in Southern California where there’s close to 2 billion square feet of industrial space. You name the gateway – New York, New Jersey, Norfolk, Savannah – and these warehouses are totally and completely packed.”
On the other side of equation, Port of Long Beach Chief Operating Officer Noel Hacegaba shared steps the Port of Long Beach has taken to improve the flow of the surging volume of containers carrying imported cargo, which face several bottlenecks between U.S. point of entry and their final destination. Those steps include expansion of port operating hours and the recent imposition of dwell fees assessed on inbound containers that are not picked and removed promptly.
“Why are we assessing additional charges at a time when they need relief? Well, you can’t let the terminal, or even the ships at anchor, serve as warehouses – and that’s effectively what they’re doing,” Hacegaba explained. “We need to get those boxes out, and since we made that announcement, those boxes that this surcharge targets are down 20% at the Port of Long Beach, and this shows there is still room for improvement.”
Hacegaba and Mongelluzzo both cautioned that it is difficult to estimate when U.S. exporters will see significant improvement in the shipping industry’s ability to move their cargo to overseas destinations. Projections range from early 2022, when the Lunar New Year holidays tend to slow the volume of imports arriving at U.S. ports, to late 2022 or early 2023. The uncertainty is a growing concern for international customers who rely on prompt delivery of U.S. beef and pork.