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Fed Cattle Recap | Cash prices take a tiny step back

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Sometimes the market gives, sometimes it takes a little break. After several weeks of substantial gains, the cash market for fed cattle took a tiny step back the week ending Feb. 3. Is that enough to break the momentum of a bull market? We’ll have to wait and see.

But all is not lost—Valentine’s Day approaches and if the way to a woman’s heart is with chocolate and roses, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. That’s good news for steak sales.

Looking at cattle movement through the supply chain, the Five Area formula sales volume totaled 202,412 head, compared with about 193,148 the previous week. However, the Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 77,217 head, compared with about 118,367 head the previous week, a 41,000 head drop in cash volume.

The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was lowered on Monday to 611,000 head, compared with 596,000 head the same week last year. The current year-to-date total is about 69,000 head higher than last year.

Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 39,000 head, compared with about 49,000 head the previous week. The packers have about 194,000 head of forward contracts available for February and 181,000 head in March.

Now looking at the prices, the weekly weighted average cash steer price for the Five Area region was $125.91 per cwt, compared with $126.46 the previous week, 55 cents lower. The weighted average cash dressed steer price for the Five Area region was $199.90, compared with $199.74 the previous week, 16 cent’s higher.

The Five Area average formula price was $198.22, compared with $193.25 the previous week, $4.97 higher. This is normal, as the formula price follows cash a week behind.

The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending Jan. 20 was 891 pounds, 5 pounds lower than last week but higher than the 889 pounds recorded the same week last year.

Now for the good news. The Choice-Select spread was $5.65 on Friday, compared with $5.00 the previous week and a $1.47 spread last year. It was quite a bit higher than last year, helped out by Valentine’s Day Choice steak sales.

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