Compared to last week, yearling feeders along with steer and heifer calf prices were very uneven and posted wide trend swings just within the single week’s trading session. Early week feeder and stocker trends were very uneven ranging from steady to 5.00 higher to 5.00 lower. From mid-week on many auctions were instances as much as 8.00-10.00 lower.
The Northern Plains is the best place to sell many of the calves and 700-950 lb yearlings with long strings and load lots coming off grass selling with very good demand. Over the last week Live and Feeder Cattle futures have seen great price volatility as buyers and sellers have had to remain cautious as on Tuesday and Wednesday Feeder Cattle contracts imploded with mostly limit losses in the feeder pit. This is in part being accelerated by the heavy sell-off in the Stock Market since last Thursday and continuing into this week.
The Dow closed on Wednesday with losses of 173 points and at one time had declined 460 points to close at 16,141. Growing concerns about economic growth mainly in Europe and Asia has caused market participants to sell off assets and be in a very defensive mood. This has cattle futures and many other agriculture commodities falling into that category.
Also, escalating concerns over the Ebola virus spreading further in the U.S. has investors nervous as well. December Live Cattle has dropped near 8.00 from last Thursday’s record high to this Wednesday’s low as November feeder cattle has dropped over 11.00 during the same time period. But despite these losses packers failed to exploit sharply lower futures as fat cattle traded near steady money on Wednesday afternoon mostly at 164.00 with a few at 165.00 in Nebraska and the Southern Plains with dressed sales steady at 258.00.
Hopefully with the fat cattle trade holding onto steady money in the face of these adversities can stabilize cattle trader’s fears. Then on Thursday Live Cattle and Feeder Cattle contracts did stabilize and rocked the bear back and closed with near limit gains for Live Cattle and limit gains for Feeder Cattle contracts. But, volatility still dominates this market as on Friday Feeder Cattle contracts closed mostly limit down as traders attempt to make sense of a wild trading week.
Despite the lower prices this week in the feeder cattle market we are still at all-time highs and back to prices in many areas we had two to three weeks ago. On Monday in Torrington, WY sold 170 head of fancy steer calves averaging 416 lbs sold with a weighted average price of 400.69. In Aberdeen, SD at the Hub City Livestock Market on Wednesday sold 497 head of steers weighing between 780-797 lbs averaging 791 lbs sold with a weighted average price 252.75. This week’s auction volume included 42 percent over 600 lbs and 39 percent heifers.