Thursday closed with the live cattle February contract at $116 and the April contract at $122.70.
“With a strong export report accompanied by continued support for the boxed beef market—feedlots are playing a tough, tough game of hard ball this week and aren’t willing to let their cattle go for steady money,” ShayLe Stewart, DTN livestock analyst, reported in her Thursday midday comments.
Cash prices sold mostly at the $110 mark all week. Dressed purchases sold from $174-177. Formula cattle sold steady all week in the upper $170s.
“The cash cattle market is still quiet; painfully quiet, as feedlots are unwilling to drop their asking prices, knowing all too well that cash prices need to be stronger,” Stewart said.
The beef cutout has continued to climb higher after holding steady the first couple weeks of January. As of Thursday afternoon, the Choice cutout was at $231.99 and the Select cutout was at $220.88.
As of Thursday, cattle slaughter for the week was reported at 471,000 head, behind the pace of the week and year prior.
USDA released actual slaughter data Thursday for the week ending Jan. 16, and the number was at 509,000 head, compared to 489,000 head the week earlier. Carcass weights were up 2 lbs. to 925 lbs., making the rising cutout prices even more impressive.
Feeder cattle contracts mostly saw declines, waiting to see where the March corn contract was headed. The corn contract stayed steady through Thursday at $5.34. January feeder cattle contracts were priced at $135.70 and $139.80 for January and March, respectively. The latest CME Feeder Cattle Index was reported Thursday at $135.34, up from the week prior.
“Largely, the board continues to trade in the same sheepish manner it presented Wednesday as traders are leery about how much higher they are going to take this market in the near future,” Stewart commented.
Nebraska: Bassett Livestock Auction in Bassett sold 4,240 head Wednesday. Compared with the prior sale, steers 550-600 lbs. traded steady to $2 lower; 650-700 lbs. traded $4-6 higher. Heifers traded unevenly steady with a high demand for replacement quality offerings. Benchmark steers averaging 728 lbs. sold between $147.25-152.50, and averaged $149.34.
South Dakota: Hub City Livestock Auction in Aberdeen sold 5,975 head Wednesday. Compared to the week prior, steers 500-900 lbs. sold $2-4 higher with instances up to $9 higher on 550-600 lbs. and 650-700 lbs. Heifer calves 500-800 lbs. sold $1-3 higher. Benchmark steers averaging 729 lbs. sold between $140-150.75, and averaged $146.81.
Wyoming: Torrington Livestock in Torrington sold 4,878 head Wednesday. Compared to the sale prior steer and heifer calves traded $3-7 higher. Benchmark steers averaging 723 lbs. $146-154, and averaged $150.22. — Anna Miller, WLJ editor