Today's jobs report was a bit worrisome for meat demand. Nonfarm payroll increased by 142,000 jobs during August. That was the smallest increase for any month since December.
Boxed beef cutout value reversed and moved higher this week. The cutout value for choice carcasses this morning was $248.56/cwt, up $2.57 from last Friday and $53.33 higher than a year ago. The select cutout increased to $237.30/cwt on today's morning report, up $2.52 for the week and $56.12 higher than a year earlier. This week's choice-select price spread is the most since early May.
Fed cattle prices are the highest since the first week of August. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis were $159.22/cwt, up $4.66 from last week's average, and up $36.80 compared to a year ago. The 5 area average dressed price for steers gained $6.96 this week to $249.94/cwt. This week last year the dressed price averaged $194.22/cwt.
Slaughter was light this week due to the Labor Day holiday. Cattle slaughter totaled 518 thousand head, down 11.3% from the week before and 9.9% fewer than the same week last year (which also included Labor Day).
The average dressed weight for steers slaughtered the week ending August 23 was 880 pounds, up 1 pound from the week before and 14 pounds heavier than the same week last year.
Because of Monday's holiday, Oklahoma City did not have a feeder cattle auction this week. On Missouri auctions, feeder steers and heifers were generally steady to $5 higher than last week. This week's prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight group were: 400-450# $279-$339.50, 450-500# $265-$306, 500-550# $248-$300, 550-600# $235-$293.50, 600-650# $228-$268, 650-700# $220-$258, 700-750# $217-$251.25, 750-800# $205-$237.50, 800-900# $201-$231, and 900-1000# $195-$214.75/cwt.
Cattle futures posted solid gains again this week. The October live cattle futures contract closed at $159.75/cwt today, up $8.33 on the week. December fed cattle settled at $160.92/cwt, up $6.97 for the week. The February contract finished the week at $159.20/cwt.
The September feeder cattle contract advanced $7.07 this week to end at $225.72/cwt. October feeders closed the week at $224.37/cwt, up $7.65 compared to the Friday before. The November contract ended the week at $222.92/cwt.
Corn futures continue to decline. The September contract ended the week at $3.465/bushel, down 13 cents for the week. December corn closed at $3.56, off 9 cents from the previous Friday. March corn settled at $3.6875 per bushel. May corn futures closed at $3.77/bu.