So far this week, negotiated cash fed cattle prices are mainly $2-$3 lower on a live basis at $101/cwt. in the Southern Plains and Nebraska and at $100-$101 in the western Corn Belt, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service. Dressed trade is $2-3 lower at $160-$161.
Cattle futures reversed course again on Thursday, regaining most of what was lost in the previous session and despite the surge in Corn futures. At least part of the support came from limit-up moves in nearby Lean Hog futures, after news that a wild boar carcass in Germany tested positive for African Swine Fever. In turn, South Korea banned pork imports from Germany, which was the second largest European pork exporter last year.
Except for 17¢ lower in away Feb, Live Cattle futures closed an average of 72¢ higher (27¢ to $1.00 higher).
Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $1.59 higher (77¢ higher in spot Sep to $1.95 higher).
Choice boxed beef cutout value was $2.12 lower Thursday afternoon at $220.83/cwt. Select was 19¢ lower at $207.32.
Actual total fed cattle slaughter for the week ending Aug. 29 was 527,439 head, according to USDA’s Actual Slaughter Under Federal Inspection report. That was 4,100 more than the previous week and 6,872 head more than the prior year. The average dressed steer weight of 916 lbs. was 6 lbs. heavier than the previous week and 32 lbs. heavier than a year earlier. The average dressed heifer weight of 834 lbs. was 1 lb. heavier than a week earlier and 23 lbs. heavier than the same week last year.
After 7¢ higher in spot Sep, Corn futures closed 3¢ to 4¢ higher through Sep ’21 and then fractionally mixed to 2¢ higher. Support included reports of successive typhoons impacting China’s main corn-growing region.
After 5¢ higher in spot Sep, Soybean futures closed mostly 1¢ to 3¢ lower
USDA’s monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates are due out Friday morning.
Major U.S. financial indices closed strongly lower Thursday, amid a resumed selloff in big Tech stocks.
Also negative, initial weekly unemployment insurance claims last week were 884,000, more than traders expected. The number was on par with the previous week’s revised figure, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed 405 points lower. The S&P 500 closed 59 points lower. The NASDAQ closed 221 points lower.
“With the large cow slaughter levels of recent years, there has been a lack of harvest capacity, especially in some regions of the U.S. That will become a less critical factor depressing prices if culling rates begin to subside as expected,” say analysts with the Livestock Marketing Information Center (LMIC), in the latest Livestock Monitor. Plus, LMIC forecasts some strength in fed cattle prices, which tends to be supportive of cull cow prices.
As it is, AMS pegged the national live cull cow price (packer direct) at $57.65/cwt. the last week of August, according to LMIC. That was about $2 more than a year earlier, but more than $15 less than the five-year average (2014-18).
“Generally, year-over-year increases in cull cow prices are expected for the balance of this year and throughout next year,” say LMIC analysts. That runs counter to typical seasonal expectations, when cull cow prices usually begin dropping in late September through November.
However, the LMIC folks say it’s essential to also consider non-typical changes within seasonal cull cow slaughter patterns. For instance, they point to beef imports. Most non-fed, lean beef imported to the U.S. comes from South America and Australia. Long-term, widespread Australian drought increased cow slaughter and non-fed beef exports in recent years. Easing drought in that country suggests a reduction in U.S. imports.