Cash trade in the fed cattle market was limited to nonexistent by mid-afternoon Friday. USDA reported light fed cattle numbers traded hands at $105, with dressed sales at $163 to $165, steady prices compared to the week before. Plains feedyards appear in a standoff, seeking higher prices.
The market has been searching for a low, and gains in the futures market this week gave hope that it had been found. Packers, however, have other ideas and gave no signal they are willing to concede the market low. Since the week ending August 11, cash fed cattle prices have declined $12 per cwt.
Positive news can be found in consumer demand for beef, which remains strong, and the fact packer margins remain healthy. Beef exports also remain robust, with the first sea shipments of beef headed to China this week.
Gains in feeder futures provided a boost to auction market prices, though trading occurred in a wide range, mostly steady to $5 higher, with instances of $6 to $8 higher. According to AMS market reporters, “The full incline was observed mid-week as futures provided support to auction sales. Demand was moderate to very good, with moderate to active trade. Early-week auctions were sparse this week, as many auction barns were closed in observance of Labor Day.”
Compared to last Friday, Choice boxed-beef closed at $191.88, up 53 cents and Select boxed-beef closed at $189.97, down 68 cents, bringing the Choice-Select spread to $1.91.