As fed-cattle trade developed late this week, USDA reports steer prices averaging $104.33 per hundredweight, down from highs over $107 two weeks ago, but still uncommonly strong. One year ago, prices hovered around $85 per hundredweight.

Boxed beef prices also have dropped off slightly this week, with the Choice cutout today averaging $173.10 per hundredweight and Select averaging $171.61. That leaves an unusually narrow Choice-Select spread of $1.49. Last Friday, the Choice cutout averaged $173.52.

One year ago, the Choice cutout averaged about $145 per hundredweight.

Last week’s Cattle on Feed report showed a high rate of feedyard placements during December and growing feedyard inventories, pressuring prices lower in the short run. Supplies of market-ready cattle will remain tight, however, and prices should remain strong into the spring.