Cash cattle trade stayed undeveloped through Thursday and futures contracts traded on both sides of the market.
Cash trade was limited with light demand Thursday, with 9,148 head traded. Prices ranged were mostly at $112. Dressed steers ranged from $175-177, but sold mostly at $176.
“The fact remains that packers need cattle and in order for them to keep their brisk slaughter speeds, they will need to buy more cattle,” remarked ShayLe Stewart, DTN livestock analyst in her Thursday midday market comments. “Trade could develop sometime Thursday afternoon or wait until Friday to develop.”
Live cattle futures crept higher Thursday after trading back and forth throughout the week. The February contract settled pennies higher at $114.97 and the April contract gained almost a quarter to close at $119.50.
Boxed beef prices sold mixed all week, but traded mostly sideways. The Choice cutout closed Thursday at $205.27 and the Select cutout at $196.08.
As of Thursday afternoon, slaughter was projected at 466,000 head, a little over 30,000 head short of last year. The day’s slaughter is estimated at 119,000 head.
“Thankfully as trade continues to progress into the year and we start to get a grasp on where the market could potentially head versus being bombarded with jittery trade following the holidays, the feeder cattle contracts could stand to trade higher especially if the corn market doesn’t run higher and if live cattle can secure steady gains,” Stewart commented.
The corn contract continues to soar, although it regressed slightly Thursday afternoon. The March contract closed at $4.94.
The feeder cattle contracts were able to recover some of the ground they lost today, with the January contract at $136.70 and the March contract at $137.57. The Thursday CME Feeder Cattle Index was up at $135.53.
Kansas: Winter Livestock in Dodge City sold 5,995 head Wednesday. Compared to the previous week, feeder steers 700-900 lbs. sold $4-5 lower. There was no recent comparison on steer calves 300-700 lbs., however a higher market was noted. Feeder heifers 600-750 lbs. sold $2-4 lower. There was no recent comparison on heifers 300-600 lbs., although a higher market was noted. There was also no recent comparison on heifers 750-900 lbs., although a lower market was noted. Benchmark steers averaging 773 lbs. sold between $128-139, and averaged $135.91.
South Dakota: Hub City Livestock Auction in Hub City sold 6,173 head Wednesday. There were no market trends as the first sale of the year, but there was good to very good demand for several long strings and several loads of yearlings offered. There was good to very good demand for a large offering of calves. Benchmark steers averaging 768 lbs. sold between $129.75-142.75, and averaged $136.21.
Wyoming: Torrington Livestock in Torrington sold 5,291 head. No trends were noted as it was the first feeder sale of the year, but the market was very active with most cattle weighing over 600 lbs. Benchmark steers averaging 765 lbs. sold between $140-152, and averaged $144.58. — Anna Miller, WLJ editor