Cash fed cattle traded more than $1 per hundredweight higher last week, with prices at $105 in the South, while Northern sales were $107 to $108 live and $173 to $175 per hundredweight dressed. The North continues to see a rare and unseasonal premium to southern feedlot direct trade. Slaughter was called exceptionally large last week which will result in plenty of product this week. Cattle feeding margins remained poor while packer margins were good.

Boxed beef cutout values declined, with Choice falling nearly $6 on the week, ending Friday at $171.55 per hundredweight. Select sold at $165.37. The Choice-Select spread was $6.18, nearly even with the previous week.

Feeder cattle sold at auction sold firm to $5 last week while direct trade remained slow. Calves, on limited availability were quoted steady to $5 lower, with most of the decline on lighter weights. Slaughter cows were mostly $2 firmer.  Auction receipts were 159,200 last week, compared with 105,000 during the holiday-shortened previous week, and 196,200 a year ago.

Corn continued to rise on concerns over planting progress and total acreage. July corn futures climbed 31 cents after Thursday’s crop production report to $7.95 per bushel. USDA lowered its projection for the domestic corn crop by 2.3 percent to 13.2 billion bushels and cut its forecast for inventories that will be left from this year’s crop before the 2012 harvest by 23 percent to 695 million bushels, leaving new crop ending stocks at 5.2 percent. This is expected to lend support to December corn futures. Cash corn ended the week at $7.66, up 7 cents.

Beef exports continue to provide support to the fed cattle market, according to new data from USDA. Through April U.S. beef exports were 31 percent higher than the previous year. Through the first four months of 2011, analysts claim the value of U.S. exports is $188 per head.