2013 closing with strong cash sales dissipating

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Beef demand improved in the week following Thanksgiving; however, momentum didn’t last and cash trade fell lower in the following weeks. Fed cattle brought as much as $133 per hundredweight in Nebraska during the week ending Nov. 29, as prices remained near record levels. Trade was supported by continually tight supplies and steady demand while grocers looked to fill meat cases with beef. Eventually, competition from comparatively cheap pork moved in to hinder beef demand and push cash values lower in December.

The cash market’s jump following the Thanksgiving holiday moved prices higher than our panel of experts anticipated. The five-area trade was more than $1.50 per hundredweight higher than the week’s Monday Market Sentiment (MMS). Predictions were optimistic in the following weeks, but the average cash price fell lower while our panel was expecting a recovery. Packers who continued to see negative margins during the month and uncertain beef demand made the market direction difficult to forecast.

Each week, Cattle Trader Center (cattletradercenter.com), sponsored by Merck Animal Health, solicits entries for MMS, an online contest where participants are asked to pick the weekly market price for fed cattle. The entry closest to USDA’s weekly five-area weighted reported fed-cattle prices wins a $100 Cabela’s gift card.

Weekly winners of the MMS contest were:

November 29 – Joe Kovanda, Bartlett Cattle

December 6 – Wesley Davis, JBS

December 13 – Wayne Lee, Cattle Empire

Contest entries may be submitted between noon and midnight on Mondays by emailing your cash-market price quote (live FOB steers and heifers combined price per hundredweight) to bwessler@vancepublishing.com with “Monday Market Sentiment” in the subject line. For more information and official rules, visit cattletradercenter.com.

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