Cash fed cattle sold $1 higher last week in what was described as a moderate trade. Southern feedyards sold cattle at $124 per hundredweight, while prices in the North were $120 to $124 live and $188 to $192 dressed. Packer demand was moderate but supplies of market-ready cattle remained tight which supported the higher bids.

Boxed beef prices were up modestly for the week after significant declines the week before. Choice beef traded at $189.99 on Friday, up $1.01 from the previous week. Select traded at $177.85, a gain of $2.21 from the previous week. The Choice-Select spread was $14.35.

Calf prices were uneven and posted significant trend swings within the week’s trading session. Early-week calf trends were largely weak to as much as $10 lower especially on lightweights under 500 pounds. An exception was found at the Oklahoma National Stockyards which quoted calves $2-$4 higher.

“Demand improved as the week progressed – perhaps as news surfaced that calves were selling at bargain prices earlier,” according to USDA Market News reporter Corbitt Wall. “Stocker and feeder calf buyers are a long way from filling their needs, but many just wanted to slow the procurement down for a while.”

Yearlings were not well tested as supplies were called “nearly exhausted.” Wall said the trend on yearlings was “mostly steady to weak with the best test in the Northern Plains on heavier background loads.”

“There is still much uncertainty about the size of this year’s calf run that has yet to be sold,” Wall said. “Most agree that offerings will be smaller than usual, but argue as to what extent and whether the marketing will be more spread out.  Answers will be found in the next few weeks and many of the delays that have been holding calf demand at bay will transpire.”

Last week’s auction receipts totaled 227,600 compared to 233,800 last week and 243,000 last year. Direct sales of stocker and feeder cattle totaled 37,900 with video/Internet sales at 7,300. The weekly total was 274,300, compared to 302,000 last year.

Slaughter cows and bulls sold  mostly steady for the week. USDA's Cutter cow carcass cut-out value Friday morning was $159.01, down $1.79 from the previous Friday. Omaha cash corn was 52 cents per bushel higher for the week at $7.65 per bushel.