Fed cattle continue steady trend

Livestock Markets
Dec 15, 2008
by WLJ
Fed cattle continue steady trend

Cash cattle trade at midweek showed good numbers of cattle trading hands in the southern Plains at prices mostly steady to slightly lower than the previous week. Trade came at $98-99 in Kansas, Colorado and Texas, however, most trade in the north and Corn Belt region was at a standstill as of mid-day last Thursday.

Feedlots were holding steady for dressed prices in the $155-156 range while packer buyers were firm on offers of $150-151, making trade likely to be a Friday affair in the north.

Packers were working with significantly less margin last week as boxed beef prices remained soft and likely to continue lower as domestic product movement proved to be lackluster at best, particularly in the middle meats.

However, packers have not yet started curtailing production levels in order to support their margins. The result was a relatively robust slaughter volume for the week through last Thursday with packers harvesting an estimated 508,000 head, up 1,000 from the same period a week prior and 2,000 from the same period in 2007. Choice boxed beef prices last Thursday were trading slightly lower at $159.08 while Select was down to $151.69 on movement reported as light to moderate. The end meats bound for export markets and ground beef for domestic sales were the two bright spots in the beef complex last week, as has been the case for several months.

Wholesale buyers of beef have been working in mostly a hand-tomouth fashion, with little forward contracting as they wait for discounting of beef prices. That has created some pressure for beef cutout values as the demand side of the market drives prices nearterm, analysts said last week. Pork prices, which are being driven lower by large slaughter volumes, are also creating stiff competition in the wholesale markets for buyers’ dollars which could also prevent much in the way of price improvement in the boxed beef markets.

The sideways cash trade last week did little to improve the

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