Negotiated cash fed cattle trade remained mostly undeveloped through late Friday afternoon, although there continued to be chatter that inventory needs would push packers to the trough before the end of the day. The lack of cash direction helped to hold Cattle futures in check, with Feeder Cattle getting extra pressure from rising corn prices.
Live Cattle futures closed narrowly mixed, from an average of 9¢ lower to an average of 37¢ higher.
Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of 46¢ lower in flea-thin trade.
Wholesale beef values were steady on Choice and sharply lower on Select, with light to moderate demand and offerings, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was 5¢ lower Friday afternoon at $218.50/cwt. Select was $2.78 lower at $201.47.
Major U.S. financial indices closed lower Friday, in volatile trade. Pressure included uncertainty surrounding trade issues. Support included a monthly employment report that beat expectations. Non-farm payroll employment increased by 250,000 in October, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That left the nation’s unemployment rate at 3.7% for the second consecutive month, the lowest rate since 1969.
“…we have a total of 4.5 million new jobs since November 2016. Jobs were added across all industries. Employment hit a record high of 156,562,000,” says U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 109 points lower. The S&P 500 closed 17 points lower. The NASDAQ was down 77 points.
Early tables from USDA for the Agricultural Projections to 2028 that will be published in February suggest the nation’s beef cowherd will peak in 2021 at 32.00 million head, which would be 111,000 head more than the projected inventory on Jan. 1 of next year of 31.89 million head.
Those same projections estimate feeder steer prices (OKC) next year to average $146.50/cwt., compared to this year’s estimate of $148.20. The 5-area Direct fed steer price for next year is estimated at $117.75, compared to this year’s estimate of $116.29.
For this year, analysts with the Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC) noted earlier this week, higher costs—including winter feed, fuel, utilities and interest—along with lower cull cow prices are pressuring cow-calf returns.
“Last year had a positive return over cash costs, due to calf prices that strengthened during the second half of the year,” say LMIC analysts, in the latest Livestock Monitor. They estimate cash returns per cow this year at slightly less than breakeven.