Fed cattle prices have backed off the record levels of the last two weeks. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $130.95/cwt, down $1.24 from last week's record, but up $6.49 from the same week last year. Steers sold on a dressed basis averaged $206.04/cwt this week, down $3.03 from last week's record, but $11.04 higher than a year ago.
This morning, the boxed beef cutout value for choice carcasses was $203.10/cwt, down $1.23 from the previous Friday, but up $11.40 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout is at $189.86/cwt, up 28 cents for the week and up $15.30 from the same day last year.
Compared to their September estimates, USDA's November WASDE lowered 2013 corn acres planted by 2.1 million, lowered acres harvested by 1.9 million and boosted yield by 5.1 bushels to 160.4 bushels per acre. They now estimate the 2013 corn harvest at 13.989 billion bushels and the marketing year price at $4.10-$4.90 per bushel, down 30 cents from their September prediction.
Today USDA lowered soybean acres planted and harvested by 0.7 million, increased yield by 1.8 bu. to 43.0 bushels per acre and raised production to 3.258 billion bushels. Their price forecast range of $11.15-13.15/bushel is 35 cents lower than before.
USDA's November WASDE is predicting the 2013 corn harvest will be 33 million bushels lower than the pre-release trade average and the soybean harvest will be 33 million bushels larger.
This week's news on the U.S. economy is encouraging for meat demand. The U.S. GDP grew at an annual rate of 2.8 percent during the third quarter. The good news is that was better than the 2 percent trade forecast. The bad news is that the extra growth was due to a buildup in inventories.
Domestic meat demand was up 4.8 percent in August with domestic beef demand up 2.9 percent. Export demand for beef was up 5.9 percent in August. August was the sixth consecutive month with domestic beef demand above the year-ago level, and it was the fourth consecutive month with higher export demand for beef.
This week's cattle slaughter totaled 607,000 head, down 2.3 percent from last week and down 4.0 percent from a year ago. The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on October 26 was 876 pounds, up 1 pound from the week before and unchanged from a year earlier.
Oklahoma City feeder cattle auction prices were steady to $3 higher this week. Prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight were: 400-450# $208-$223, 450-500# $197-$209, 500-550# $185-$215, 550-600# $174.50-$190.50, 600-650# $163.50-$184, 650-700# $155-$171.50, 700-750# $154-$173.50, 750-800# $158-$167, 800-900# $158-$165.75, and 900-1000# $147-$149.25/cwt.
The December live cattle futures contract closed at $132.40/cwt today, up 33 cents from last week's close. February fed cattle settled at $133.95, up 48 cents for the week.