Negotiated cash fed cattle trade ended up higher last week. Live prices in the Southern Plains were $1-$3 higher at $109/cwt. in the Texas Panhandle and at $108-$109 in Kansas. Live trade in the Northern Plains ranged from steady to $4 higher in Nebraska at $109-$111, to $1 lower to $2 higher on a light test in Colorado at $108-$111. Dressed trade in Nebraska and the western Corn Belt was mainly $2 higher at mostly $172. Live sales in the western Corn Belt were $1 higher at $108-$110.
Stronger cash prices lifted Cattle futures.
Live Cattle futures closed an average of $1.09 higher (72¢ to $1.60 higher).
Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $1.54 higher.
Wholesale beef values were firm on moderate to good demand and offerings, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service.
Choice boxed beef cutout value was $1.56 higher Monday afternoon at $217.22/cwt. Select was 65¢ higher at $189.33.
Corn futures closed mostly unchanged to fractionally lower.
Soybean futures closed 3¢ to 4¢ higher through Jan ’21 and then mostly 2¢ lower to 2¢ higher.
Major U.S. financial indices softened Monday as investors contemplated the potential breadth, depth and timing of the phased U.S.-China trade deal bandied about Friday.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 29 points lower. The S&P 500 closed 4 points lower. The NASDAQ was down 8 points.
“Relatively tight supplies of Prime and Choice beef are contributing to historically wide price spreads and high values for high quality-grade beef,” says David Anderson, Extension livestock economist at Texas A&M University.
In the latest issue of In the Cattle Markets, Anderson explains the Prime boxed beef cutout averaged $279.55/cwt. during the last month, which is a staggering $64.74 more than a year earlier. During the same period, the Choice cutout was $13.28 more at $215.76.
So, the Prime-Choice spread was $63.80/cwt., compared to $12.33 last year. The average Choice-Select spread was $25.76, compared to about $11 last year and for the five-year average.
“The Choice-Select spread tends to increase seasonally this time of the year and that seasonal trend is again occurring, but at a much higher price level this year,” Anderson says.
The spread is being magnified by less year-over-year fed beef production and a decline in carcasses grading Choice and higher.
“Over the last four weeks, total beef production is more than 0.5% below the same period a year ago,” Anderson says. “Over this period, fed steer and heifer slaughter is down 1.7%, while cow slaughter is up 4.2%. Digging in a little deeper, fed steer slaughter is down 6.5% while fed heifer slaughter is up 6.7%. Dressed weights continue to be down about 2 lbs. per head over the last month for steers, heifers, and cows. Combining weekly slaughter and dressed weights leaves fed beef production about 2.2% lower than a year ago, while cow beef is up 3.8%.”
Also for the last month, Anderson says Prime is running about 1.6% less than same period a year earlier and Choice is about 2.6% less. Approximately 7.7% more carcasses graded Select.
“Combining the percentage of carcasses by grade and pounds of fed steer and heifer beef produced indicates that over the last month Prime beef production has been almost 4% below a year ago. Choice beef production is almost 5% lower than a year ago, while Select production is about 5% higher,” Anderson says.