Most portions of the market were up yesterday as the choppy back-and-forth continues.

By the close of trade on Thursday, the confirmed fat cattle trade count for the week grew to 15K. Prices stood at $112 live and $178 dressed. This was up from earlier in the week but about $1 lower than last week’s averages. Some still hold out hope for a steady trade this week, but many market watchers have added “weak” to their predictions of steady trade.

Packers are buying this week for a short production week next week. This will likely keep a lid on cash prices. However, next week will be the reverse dynamic; packers will have a holiday-shortened week to buy for a full production week.

Cutouts gained slightly on Thursday, gaining about 40 cents each with Choice closing at $213.55 and Select at $197.58. Expectations are for a upturn in product value after Thanksgiving.

“Product values are expected to recover post-holiday, as beef will be the featured meat,” opined Andrew Gottschalk of Hedgers Edge. “Evidence continues to mount that beef is the big winner from higher employment and increasing wages, while chicken has lost favor. … In reality, we are witnessing a move up the protein ladder. This will be replicated all over the world, as incomes rise.”

The near-term futures contracts were mixed but mostly up. Both the near-term live cattle contracts were up about 50 cents at $115.15 for December and $119.10 for February. The near-term feeder futures were mixed, with the November contract losing 35 cents to settle at $148.63 and the January contract gaining 87 cents to settle at $147.85.

WLJ Managing Editor

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