Cattle Market Notes: Week Ending May 22, 2015

Cash Cattle:

Cash traded fed cattle finished the week slightly lower this week. The five-area fed steer price ended the week at $159.98 for live sales, and $251.66 for dressed; respectively, down $0.84 and $4.89. Total volume sold was higher than a week ago, but much lower than last year.

Feeder steer cattle and calves were higher across much of the U.S. this week. Summer grazing demand is heating up and rains continued across much of the Midwest. The USDA rated 57% of U.S. pastures in good or excellent condition this week, up from 56% good or excellent last week and 44% good or excellent a year ago. In Mississippi auctions, lighter weight feeders and calves were $5.00 to $10.00 higher, while heavy steers were about $2.50 lower than a week ago. Oklahoma City feeder steers and heifers were steady to $10 lower this week.

The World Trade Organization (WTO) has once again ruled against the U.S. Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) this week. If Congress does not rewrite COOL by later this fall, the WTO may allow certain sanctions from Canada and Mexico in retaliation.

[ … For Livestock Prices and Production data and trends CLICK HERE … ]

Futures:

Live cattle and feeder cattle futures were mixed this week. June live cattle were down about $0.40 on the week, while October live cattle were up $0.65. Feeder cattle were slightly higher across the board with August futures up $0.80 from last Friday. Corn futures were lower on the week despite concerns about wet conditions and replanting across parts of the corn belt.

Beef:

Wholesale boxed beef prices were mostly steady this week. Choice boxes averaged $263.19, down $1.12 from a week ago. Select boxes ended the week with an average of $249.89, up $0.82. The average choice retail beef price for the month of April set a record at $6.402 per pound.

Note: all cattle and beef prices are quoted in dollars per hundredweight and corn prices are quoted in dollars per bushel, unless stated otherwise.

May Cattle on Feed Report Recap

The United States Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (USDA, NASS) released their monthly Cattle on Feed report Friday afternoon (May 22). The report revealed that 10.649 million head of cattle were in U.S. feedlots with a capacity of 1,000 head or larger on May 1, 2015. Placements into feedlots during the month of April totaled 1.548 million head while marketings during the same month totaled 1.639 million head.

[ … For detailed numbers and charts CLICK HERE … ]

Placements totaled 1.548 million head, an increase of 4.62% from April 2014 and a 6.56% decrease from the five-year average of 2010 to 2014. Market analyst expected placements to come in at 1.585 million head, so the reported value was much lower than anticipated — even below the lowest guess by 2.02 percentage points. The drop in placements came from a decrease in lightweight placements, with all weight classes except for cattle larger than 800 pounds coming in lower than a year ago nationally.

Cattle marketed in April totaled 1.639 million head, down 7.82% versus last year and down 9.67% compared to the average from 2010 to 2014. Pre-report expectations called for marketings to be 7.6% lower than the same period last year.

The total number of cattle in feedlots with 1,000 head or larger capacity totaled 10.640 million head, up 0.81% versus May 1, 2014 but 1.53% lower than the five-year average.  Market analysts expected a 1.7% year-over-year increase in cattle inventories. The May 1 number of cattle on feed is 0.19 percent lower than the lowest analyst guess.

Cattle Market Notes: Week Ending May 15, 2015

** Note: At the end of this month I will no longer be an Extension specialist with Mississippi State University and this marks the final Cattle Market Notes that I will write. This decision came with tremendous emotion as I have thoroughly enjoyed my work with the MSU Extension Service, and more importantly I have always enjoyed visiting with and learning from so many of you at meetings and elsewhere. Thank you for the support and for taking time to read through my thoughts on the markets each week! **

Cash Cattle:

Cash traded fed cattle finished the week slightly higher when compared to last week. The five-area fed steer price ended the week at $160.82 for live sales, and $256.55 for dressed; respectively, up $1.05 and $1.51. In Nebraska and the Western Cornbelt a few dressed cattle traded on par with last week at $257.

Calves and feeders in Mississippi auction markets were mostly steady this week. Heavy weight (700-800 pound) steers were off quite a bit though, which is likely an anomaly since they were higher in other parts of the U.S. Oklahoma City feeder steers were firm to $3 higher and heifers were steady.

[ … For Livestock Prices and Production data and trends CLICK HERE … ]

Futures:

Cattle futures were steady this week, but not without some ups and downs. Live futures started the week in decline, but then spent Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday moving higher. Friday marked a lower move in the market. Feeders saw similar, but slightly more muted moves compared to live futures. Tuesday’s World Agricultural Supply and Demand  Estimates report from USDA (released Tuesday) indicated that beef production for 2015 is expected to total 24.339 billion pounds. The May report is the first to offer insights from USDA, and the agency has 2016 beef production pegged at 24.569 billion pounds. So, the tight supplies are expected to bottom out this year before moving higher, barring any major issues.

Corn futures were also mostly even with the previous Friday’s close. The supply and demand report was also the first gauge from USDA on the upcoming corn crop. Planting progress has been slow to develop in southeastern states, but Cornbelt states have been covering quite a bit of ground in a hurry the last few weeks. The report put 2015 U.S. corn yield at 166.8 bushes per acre, 4.2 bu/ac lower than last year, and total production for the year at 13.63 billion bushels. More detail on the report can be found HERE.

Beef:

Wholesale boxed beef prices were much higher this week. Choice boxes averaged $262.07, up $5.46. Select boxes ended the week with an average of $249.07, up $4.18.

Note: all cattle and beef prices are quoted in dollars per hundredweight and corn prices are quoted in dollars per bushel, unless stated otherwise.

Cattle Market Notes: Week Ending May 08, 2015

Cash Cattle:

Cash traded fed cattle finished the week slightly higher again this week. The five-area fed steer price ended the week at $159.77 for live sales, and $255.04 for dressed; respectively, up $0.60 and $1.14. As has been the case lately, very few head sold this week. In Nebraska and the Western Cornbelt dressed cattle traded at $256-$257. Live sales in the Western Cornbelt were recorded at $160-$163.

Feeder steer cattle and calves were higher across much of the U.S. this week. Summer grazing demand is heating up again as rains moved (or were expected to move) across needed areas. In Mississippi auctions, feeders and calves were about $2.50 higher, with heavy steers bringing about $6 more compared to the previous week. Oklahoma City feeder steers and heifers were steady to $4 higher, while calves were limited in numbers but a higher tone was noticed.

[ … For Livestock Prices and Production data and trends CLICK HERE … ]

Futures:

Live cattle and feeder cattle futures ended the week mildly higher than last Friday’s close. The volatility seen in the previous number of weeks was not present as markets were mostly even throughout the entire week. Friday saw the release of the monthly “jobs” report. The report showed strength in the job market and the unemployment rate was pulled down by 0.1 percentage points to 5.4%, however, the dismal March employment number was further reduced.

Corn futures were mostly even with the previous Friday’s close. Corn prices gained steam early in the week but then fell as the week closed. Trade was most likely prepping for the monthly supply and demand report (to be released Tuesday, May 12) and trading that news as it came in. The report will be the first glance at USDA’s expectations of the 2015 crop yields, production, and demand.

Beef:

Wholesale boxed beef prices were mostly steady this week. Choice boxes averaged $256.61, down $0.33. Select boxes ended the week with an average of $244.89, down $0.97.

Note: all cattle and beef prices are quoted in dollars per hundredweight and corn prices are quoted in dollars per bushel, unless stated otherwise.

Cattle Market Notes: Week Ending May 01, 2015

Cash Cattle:

Cash traded fed cattle finished the week slightly higher. The five-area fed steer price ended the week at $159.17 for live sales, and $253.90 for dressed; respectively, up $0.26 and $1.76. Cash trades in Texas were reported at $160 live, up about $2. Kansas trades were reported at $160 at the week’s end. Too few cattle sold in Nebraska and the Western Cornbelt to report prices.

Feeder steers and steer calves were steady, for the most part, this week in Mississippi auctions. Heifers were $10 higher, for calves, and $3 higher for feeders. Oklahoma City feeder steers were $2-$4 higher, feeder heifers were steady to $2 higher, and all calves were $2-$4 lower.

[ … For Livestock Prices and Production data and trends CLICK HERE … ]

Futures:

Live cattle futures ended the week slightly lower than last Friday’s close. The market shook off last week’s bearish report following Tuesday’s trade, but took a hit Wednesday in what has been considered a market adjustment. The week for live futures ended fairly steady. Feeder futures trended mildly higher during the week. The pressure on Wednesday from lower live cattle futures was further oppressed by higher corn prices, but sentiment in that market (corn) ended quickly on Thursday. On Friday, the early release of the University of Michigan/Thompson Reuters Consumer Sentiment reading for April came in at 95.9, the highest since 2007, and in-line with expectations.

Corn futures were sharply lower this week. The mid-summer, July, contract declined 34 cents per bushel versus last Friday. This typically the final contract for last year’s crop that is stored. The big new crop contract, December, was down 8 cents per bushel week-over-week.

Beef:

Wholesale boxed beef prices were lower, while the spread continues to move seasonally higher. Choice boxes averaged $256.94, down $2.26. Select boxes ended the week with an average of $245.86, down $4.13.

Note: all cattle and beef prices are quoted in dollars per hundredweight and corn prices are quoted in dollars per bushel, unless stated otherwise.