Last week cattle futures markets were pushed sharply lower on Friday in light of continued uncertainty in Europe. This trend continued this week, and for cash prices as well. Lower boxed beef prices since mid-week last week likely had the biggest impact on cash fed cattle. Early on, futures prices moved slightly lower as a result of the weakness in the wholesale beef market. Then, pressure from securities pushed them down hard on Thursday before a rebound pulled cattle contracts up a bit on Friday.

USDA released its monthly Cattle on Feed report this afternoon. There were no big surprises as placements and the final on feed number were almost spot-on with pre-report expectations. Cattle marketed throughout April was the only figure that might be considered off base but it was still within the range of expectations, on the low side though. Inside the report revealed no big surprises, like last month’s placements by weight group. Cattle placed on feed in Nebraska were 14% and 5% above year ago and month ago levels, respectively, which is most likely a delayed reaction from the harsh winter storms in that part of the feeding region.

Corn markets moved higher on the week after shedding about 7 to 8 cents last week. The nearby July contract and harvest time December contract put 6 and 6 ½ cents back on, respectively, this week. After starting the week much lower due to continued favorable weather post-planting – for the most part as 87% of the crop is in the ground versus a 5-year average of 78%; 55% of the crop has emerged versus a 39% 5-year average. The market moved mostly sideways Tuesday and Wednesday before shaking off the equities slide thanks to a strong exports report that showed more interest from China. As stocks moved higher Friday corn followed suit.

Source: John Michael Riley, Department of Agricultural Economics, Mississippi State University