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The hot streak continues for cattle and beef prices. The five-area fed steer price ended Friday at $142.39 and $227.27, respectively for live and dressed, up $2.91 and $5.79 compared to last Friday. In the Southern Plains, live cattle were about $3 higher at $142 on Wednesday. In Nebraska, live and dressed cattle sold at $142 (on Thursday) and $226-$229 (on Wednesday), respectively. Western Cornbelt trade took place on Wednesday at $139-$142 for live and $225-$227 for dressed.
Steer and heifer calves in Oklahoma City were steady to $3 higher, feeder steers were steady to $1 lower, and feeder heifers were steady to $2 higher. In Mississippi auction markets steer calves were $2-$7 lower, heifer calves were mostly steady, feeder steers and heifers were $5 higher. Cull cows were $2 lower, cull bulls were $3 higher, and replacements were lower.
The nearby February contract took advantage of the direction in the cash cattle and beef markets, moving higher by $3.65. As the contract month moved further out the gains weakened, implying the market is in a “wait and see” mode. This is not surprising given the record breaking pace. I suspect deferred contracts want to see how demand holds up as these prices move to the retail meat case. Feeder future gains were less dramatic despite a drop in corn prices.
Corn futures were a few pennies per bushel lower this week. Dr. Williams has some comments here. I will add that pressure also came about from lower ethanol production and, more importantly, last Friday’s supply/demand report. The report pushed the market higher which led many to send grain to the market. It has been known that producers were holding their corn in storage as a result of the drop in prices. It appears they saw an opportunity and jumped in.
Like cash cattle, wholesale boxed beef was much higher this week. Choice boxed beef finished with a weekly average of $224.62, up $14.62. Select averaged $222.17, up $15.64.
Note: all cattle and beef prices are quoted in dollars per hundredweight and corn prices are quoted in dollars per bushel, unless stated otherwise.