Cattle futures higher ahead of cash business
At the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, live and feeder cattle ended the day higher ahead of widespread direct cash business with additional support from the strength in boxed beef prices. February live cattle closed $.95 higher at $116.57 and April live cattle closed $1.02 higher at $122.22. March feeder cattle closed $1.80 higher at $140.37 and April feeder cattle closed $2.15 higher at $144.75.
Direct cash cattle trade activity improved on Wednesday. There was a very light, scattered trade at mostly $114 live in the South, fully steady with last week’s weighted averages and $181 dressed, about $.50 higher than the previous week’s business. Asking prices were around $116 live in the South and $185 dressed in the North. Look for increased trade activity on Thursday and Friday. Today’s Fed Cattle Exchange had an offering of 1,199 head, with 409 head sold for a weighted average of $114.25.
At the Kingsville Livestock Auction in Missouri, compared to two weeks ago, steers were mostly $3 to $8 higher, except 500-to-550-pound steers which were steady. Heifers were steady to $5 higher, except some fancier 400-to-500-pound heifer calves that were up to $10 higher. There was a heavy supply of quality cattle on offer and the market was active as buyers were ready to make purchases. Receipts were up on the week and the year. Feeder supply included 54 percent steers and 70 percent of the offering was over 600 pounds. Medium and Large 1 feeder steers 701 to 738 pounds brought $144.50 to $155 and feeder steers 763 to 792 pounds brought $140.25 to $145.75. Medium and Large 1 feeder heifers 608 to 648 pounds brought $136 to $147 and feeder heifers 707 to 744 pounds brought $126.60 to $136.50.
Boxed beef closed mixed on light to moderate demand for moderate offerings. Choice closed $.46 higher at $240.75 and Select is $.74 lower at $229.79. The Choice/Select spread is $10.96. Estimated cattle slaughter is 121,000 head – up 22,000 on the week and down 2,000 on the year.
Lean hog futures were supported by the sharply higher wholesale values during the session and continued strength in cash business. April lean hogs closed $3 higher at $89.42 and May lean hogs closed $2.70 higher at $91.55.
Cash hogs closed sharply higher with a solid negotiated run. Packers have been aggressive in the procurement efforts and strong demand expectations have been very supportive to prices. While demand strength has the market optimistic, the heavy supplies are never far from the forefront of anyone’s mind. The availability of market-ready barrows and gilts is more than ample and daily slaughter totals continue at high levels, contributing to increased pork on the market. Hog weights dropped slightly this week to 286.8 pounds, that’s down 0.4 pounds from a week ago, but 1.2 pounds above last year’s levels. Barrows and gilts at National Daily Direct closed $2.53 higher with a base range of $68 to $80 and a weighted average of $75.70; the Iowa/Minnesota closed $1.70 higher with a weighted average of $77.42; the Western Corn Belt closed $1.53 higher with a weighted average of $77.23; the Eastern Corn Belt had no comparison but a weighted average of $73.50.
Butcher hog prices at the Midwest cash markets are steady at $48.
Pork values closed lower – down $.61 at $92.14. Hams were sharply lower. Ribs, bellies, and loins were all lower. Picnics were sharply higher and butts were higher. Estimated hog slaughter is 497,000 head – up 22,000 on the week and even on the year.