Negotiated cash fed cattle prices were generally steady to $1 higher on a live basis and $2 higher in the beef, through Wednesday afternoon, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service.
Live prices were at $111/cwt. in the Southern Plains on moderate demand and trade. Live prices were at $110 in the western Corn Belt on slow trade and moderate demand. There were a few in Nebraska at $110. Dressed trade was at $174.
Cattle futures mostly continued gains on Wednesday, buoyed by stronger cash markets, weaker grain futures, stronger wholesale beef values and light pre-holiday trade.
Live Cattle futures closed an average of 27¢ higher.
Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 92¢ higher (25¢ to $1.57 higher) except for 7¢ lower and 32¢ lower in the back two contracts.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was 76¢ higher Wednesday afternoon at $245.06/cwt. Select was $1.19 higher at $220.90.
Corn futures closed 5¢ lower through Jly ’21 and then mostly unchanged to 1¢ lower.
Soybean futures closed mostly 5¢ to 7¢ lower.
Major U.S. financial indices closed mixed Wednesday. Pressure included more jobless claims than traders expected.
Initial unemployment insurance claims last week were 778,000, which was 30,000 more than the previous week, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 173 points lower. The S&P 500 closed 5 points lower. The NASDAQ was 57 points higher.
When Jan. 1 cattle inventory numbers come out toward the end of January, analysts with the Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC) expect to see more year- over-year contraction of the beef cow herd.
“The beef herd is expected to be down 0.5 to 1.0% based on year-to-date slaughter numbers that are above a year ago by about 2%, and heifer numbers in feedlots,” say LMIC analysts, in the latest Livestock Monitor. “It appears beef cows held for replacement are likely steady to below a year ago, given the uncertainty of 2020. Other heifers, those in the feedlot, are also expected to have pulled back. Those on feed are slightly lower than a year ago, while heifer slaughter is about 4% below last year.”
This year began with 31.31 million head, which was 1.18% less (-374,000 head) than the previous year.
“Bull slaughter is well below a year ago, a reflection of lower volumes of male cattle kept for breeding purposes. This is primarily driven by the cattle cycle and the smaller needs for bulls. LMIC estimates bull inventory Jan. 1 is likely slightly less than last year,” say LMIC analysts. “Steers over 500 lbs. are expected to fall, in line with July 1 calf crop expectations, as well as cattle weighing less than 500 lbs. Both are expected to be down over half a percent.”
Even with expectations for there to be slightly more dairy cows at the beginning of 2021, LMIC expects the total of all cattle and calves to be slightly less year over year. Total inventory at the beginning of this year was 0.41% less than the prior year.