U.S. live cattle futures rose Wednesday on stronger wholesale beef prices and expectations for higher cash cattle prices later this week.
Cattle for October delivery rose 1.4 cent, or 1.2%, to $1.21 a pound in trading at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. CME December cattle traded higher by 1.15 cent, or 1%, to $1.209 a pound. Feeder cattle for September rose 1.4% to $1.367 a pound.
October cattle prices have risen more than 7 cents a pound since the Friday before Labor Day as meat packers have worked to meet retailers' orders for the autumn grilling season. Wholesale beef prices have risen, albeit less slowly than futures, and cattle owners in turn have been able to demand higher prices.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported choice boxed beef prices were up 30 cents at midday Wednesday to $184.47 a hundred pounds. Select beef fell 36 cents to $173.65 a hundred pounds. Volume was 197 total loads. Both types have risen more than $2 since last Tuesday and choice beef has added nearly $4.
Initial cash bids for cattle this week remain absent. Meanwhile, asking prices are moving higher in tandem with gains in live cattle futures. Trading is not expected to develop until Thursday or Friday.
Cattle feeders in Texas and western Oklahoma and Kansas were last asking $1.20 or more a pound on a live basis, up from $1.19 as the low end of the quoted range earlier in the day. In Nebraska, cattle were priced at $1.90 or more a pound on a dressed basis.
Sales in Texas and western Oklahoma last week were from $1.17 to $1.18 a pound. In Kansas, cattle traded at mostly $1.18 a pound. Dressed sales in Nebraska last week were at $1.87 a pound with live sales from $1.17 to mostly $1.18 a pound.
The latest HedgersEdge packer margin index was plus $7.90 a head, compared with $3.30 the previous day. This is an estimate of packer returns on cattle slaughtered and processed expressed in the form of an index.