Feeder cattle review: Drastic price swings as gas prices increase

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Compared to last week, feeder cattle sold with very uneven trade this week, some of the larger auctions at the first of the week in Oklahoma City and Joplin were steady to 2.00 lower, with many auctions following the same market trend and pattern, in some cases markets saw a wide spectrum of prices, ranging from 5.00 higher to 5.00 lower on calves. 

Although there was several auctions throughout the Plain States trading steady to 2.00 higher.  The most advance was in Pratt, Kansas where they sold near 5900 head with 94 percent of the receipts weighing over 600 lbs, as 600-800 lb steers sold 2.00-4.00 higher.  There was 220 head of thin conditioned steers weighing 820-825 lbs selling with a weighted average price of 160.30.  In the Southeastern calf markets after last week’s advances saw very uneven trade as well, with most auctions trading steady to 3.00 lower, some marketing areas 5.00-8.00 lower.  It seems this week that buyers were wanting and needing to buy them cheaper but at week’s end demand still remains very good for all classes of feeder cattle and when one looks at weighted average prices it’s hard to see much decline. 

The week started out with live and feeder cattle futures lower and headline news talking 5.00/gal gasoline which would make one think that consumer confidence would find resistance and put pressure on family budgets.  On Wednesday and Thursday of this week live and feeder cattle futures traded sharply higher which help to reinforce asking prices as short bought packers were forced to spend money.  Fed cattle trade for March “Roared in like a lion” as once again we set record highs on Thursday in Nebraska with live sales 2.00-2.50 higher from 129.00-130.50 with bulk of the trade at 130.00, and dressed sales 5.00-6.00 higher, most of the trade at 205.00 and a few sales at 206.00.  Live sales in Kansas were mostly 2.00 higher at 130.00 and 1.00 higher in Texas at 130.00. 

Fundamentals remain good as we are able to move beef overseas with US beef exports 7 percent higher when compared to the same period a year ago.  Significant amounts of boxed beef trade on the domestic market remains light at this time, if there is a concern it would be, not from a point of where it trades which is very important but how much product is traded.  Hopefully as we see warmer temperatures in March and the grills will be coming out of hibernation and meat sales will increase as spring arrives.  With feeder cattle having sharp gains on Wednesday and Thursday supplies remain tight for feeder cattle and feedlot replacements going forward through 2012.  This week’s reported feeder cattle auction volume included 54 percent over 600 lbs and 43 percent heifers.



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