Despite four positive indicators in Drovers' index of economic health, lower profitability and performance in the feeding sector cast an ominous cloud on the next few months in the beef industry. Key cattle prices were lower in April, earning one of two down arrows, and will continue to trend lower. Fewer cattle on feed and lighter slaughter weights earned one positive arrow while lower production costs earned another. Beef improved competition in the meat case earning a third positive arrow. The fourth up arrow was earned by improved packer margins and a higher slaughter rate. Competitive meats earned a sideways arrow, as did the inventory indicator because beef cow slaughter rates are up but heifer slaughter rates are down.