Livestock markets failed to find support today. The slight gain the December live cattle contract was able to achieve yesterday was lost, with the contract down 27 cents to $110.32. The February contract continued its downward trend, and lost $1.20 to $113.45.
A total of 3,329 head of cash cattle traded today—an increase from yesterday, but still slim pickings. Steers sold between $103-106.25, averaging $105.17. There was no trend for dressed steer prices. A total of 11,200 head of formula cattle sold, averaging 890 lbs. and $174.72.
“Largely the market is seeing a lack of trader support because of the holiday,” remarked ShayLe Stewart, DTN livestock analyst, in her midafternoon comments. “Even though the futures market is scaling lower in preparation for the Christmas holiday, feedlots are still gunning for higher prices and are liking how the boxed beef market is shaping up to support a stronger trade as well.”
Boxed beef prices were mixed; the Choice cutout was down 25 cents to $210.67 and the Select cutout was up $2.33 to $199.59 on 145 loads. Today’s slaughter is projected at 119,000 head. Slaughter for the week to date is at 238,000 head—about on trend with last week, but vastly higher than last year’s 155,000 head—Christmas fell on a Wednesday last year.
“With Tuesday and Wednesday rounding out the year for most feeder cattle auctions, the feeder cattle contracts are trading modestly lower knowing that the market isn’t going to be supported over the holiday lull,” Stewart said.
January’s contract was down 72 cents to $139.90 and March’s contract was down $1.25 to $141.87. The latest CME Feeder Cattle Index was up 18 cents to $139.74.
“The feeder cattle futures market has done an excellent job paving the way for higher prices. The market just needs to see follow-through support from countryside buyers and feedlots to move the live market stronger, which will most likely not happen until after the dawning of 2021.”
Corn prices continue to scale higher, with the March contract three-and-a-half cents higher to $4.43.
Winter Livestock in La Junta, CO, sold 586 head today. Compared with last week, steer calves sold in a light test, mostly steady except 400-450 lbs. sold $2-3 higher. Heifer calves sold in a light test, mostly steady except 500-600 lbs. sold $2-3 lower. — Anna Miller, WLJ editor