Beef exports during October were up 5.4% compared to a year ago thanks to big increases in shipments to Mexico, Hong Kong and Japan. Exports equaled 10.13% of October beef production and were greater than imports for the sixth consecutive month.

Beef imports were up 29.8% compared to October 2012 with large increases coming from Canada, New Zealand, Australia and Brazil. Imports equaled 7.91% of October beef production.

Imports of live cattle in October were down 17.6% with 37.5% fewer cattle coming in from Canada and 7.8% more cattle imports from Mexico.

Through October 2013, U.S. beef exports are up 4.1%, beef imports are up 0.5%, and cattle imports are down 16.7%.

Retail beef demand was up 4.3% during October. This was the eighth consecutive month with demand above the year-ago level. Export demand for U.S. beef was up 6.1% during October.

Fed cattle prices averaged above $130/cwt for the seventh consecutive week. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $131.89/cwt, down 77 cents from the week before, but up $8.13 from the same week last year. Steers sold on a dressed basis averaged $209.10/cwt this week, down 39 cents from last week, but $13.10 higher than a year ago.

This morning, the boxed beef cutout value for choice carcasses was $202.02/cwt, down 96 cents from the previous Friday, but up $8.85 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout is $187.68/cwt, down $2.60 for the week, but up $15.45 from the same day last year.

This week's cattle slaughter totaled 629,000 head, up 13.3% from last week which was low due to Thanksgiving, but down 1.9% from the corresponding week last year.

The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on November 23 was 879 pounds, up 1 pound from the week before and up 5 pounds from a year earlier.

Oklahoma City feeder cattle auction prices were steady to $4 lower this week. Prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight were: 400-450# $205-$229, 450-500# $185-$216, 500-550# $183-$196, 550-600# $173.50-$189, 600-650# $159-$183, 650-700# $152.50-$173.50, 700-750# $163-$169.50, 750-800# $155-$167.50, 800-900# $149.50-$164.25, and 900-950# $149-$153/cwt.

The December live cattle futures contract closed at $131.42/cwt today, down $2.05 from last week's close. February fed cattle settled at $132.85, down $1.40 for the week. April settled at $133.70/cwt, down $1.72.

The January feeder cattle futures contract ended the week at $164.47/cwt, down $1.20 for the week. March feeders closed at $164.67/cwt which was $1.73 lower than the previous Friday.

Source: Ron Plain and Scott Brown