Cash fed cattle prices were stable this week. The five-area live and dressed steer prices were $158.70 and $249.83, respectively, down $0.52 and $0.11. Light cash trade volumes continue to be reported throughout the region. In Texas and Kansas live trade was reported at $161-$162, while Nebraska live prices ranged from $160 to $162 on Friday. Dressed cash cattle in Nebraska came in at $248-$250. Western Cornbelt cattle traded at $158-$160, live, and $248-$250 for dressed.
Reported Mississippi steer prices were steady to higher with heavy feeders up $5. Lightweight heifers were about $2-$12 higher, while heavy feeder heifers were down about $4-$7. Cull cows and bulls were steady to $1 higher. Compared to the week prior to Labor Day, Oklahoma City feeder steers were called $8-$12 higher, feeder heifers were $3-$8 higher, and all calves were steady.
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Nearby live cattle futures lost some ground this week compared to last week. Contract prices were building through Wednesday but moved lower to close the week out. The value of the U.S. dollar continues to move higher. Also, equity markets were under the gun much of the week and finished lower for the first time in six weeks. A lot of this is likely attributable to nervousness on Wall Street. Retail sales in August were 0.6% higher, but slightly below expectations, while the Michigan/Reuters Consumer Sentiment Index registered 84.6 for August compared to an 83.5 expectation and an 82.5 index value in July. All of this provides underlying support for a rebuilding economy but similar to cattle markets, when prices get to record levels, uneasiness creeps in. On Thursday USDA’s World Ag Outlook Board released their monthly supply and demand expectations for agricultural commodities. The Board cut 2014 beef supplies by 240 million pounds and 2015 supplies by 685 million pounds, both somewhat drastic moves.
Corn futures moved lower as a result of the supply and demand report. USDA now forecasts national corn yield at 171.7 bushels per acre and total production at 14.395 billion bushels (both would be records). These were higher than the 170.7 bu/acre yield and 14.288 production levels expected by analysts. For more on the report check out Dr. Brian Williams’ commentary HERE.
Wholesale Choice boxed beef prices were higher this week, but began to slip as the week ended. Choice boxes averaged $251.08, up 3.46. Select boxes ended the week at an average of $237.12, up $2.44.
Note: all cattle and beef prices are quoted in dollars per hundredweight and corn prices are quoted in dollars per bushel, unless stated otherwise.