Indicators point to improvement

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Eight key economic indicators suggest the cattle and beef industries are headed for better days ahead. Much of that outlook hinges on lower production costs due to reduced grain and feed costs. The steer-corn ratio is unchanged, largely due to a $3-per-hundredweight month-to-month decline in fed-cattle prices. Analysts believe the summer slump is likely over, and prices will trend higher. The combination of better markets and lower production costs will chip away at those heavy feeding losses. Better feeding margins will also support higher feeder cattle prices, which already posted nice mid-summer gains. Packers continue to post solid profits, but forecasts suggest those margins may slip into the red before Labor Day.

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