Beef demand at the retail level was 1.3% higher this July than last, the fifth consecutive up month. Export demand for beef was up 14.8% from July 2012. This was the third consecutive month that was higher than a year earlier.
USDA's August update to their production and price forecasts (WASDE) raised their forecast of the 2013 national average corn yield by 0.9 bushels to 155.3 bushels per acre. They lowered their soybean yield estimate by 1.4 bushels to 41.2 bushels per acre. The September corn futures contract ended the week at $4.50/bushel, down 42 cents for the week. September soybean futures gained 52 cents this week to settle at $14.8875.
USDA raised slightly their prediction for beef production in both 2013 and 2014, but left their slaughter steer price forecast for both years unchanged. USDA lowered their forecasts for beef imports in both years, and raised their 2013 beef export estimate. In net, they lowered their forecast of domestic per capita beef use for by 0.1 pounds in 2013 and by 0.2 pounds in 2014.
Fed cattle prices were very slightly higher this week. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $123.01/cwt, up 59 cents from last week, but down $2.90 from the same week last year. Steer prices on a dressed basis averaged $194.28/cwt this week, up 6 cents from a week ago, but down $1.13 from a year ago. This is the first week fed cattle prices have been below the year-earlier level since March.
This morning, the boxed beef cutout value for choice carcasses was $193.06/cwt, down $2.17 from the previous Friday, but up $1.62 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout is at $176.32/cwt, down $4.86 for the week and down $4.47 from the same day last year.
This week's cattle slaughter totaled 611,000 head, up 7.4% from last week (due to last Monday being Labor Day) but down 6.0% from a year ago. The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on August 31 was 867 pounds, up 1 pound from the week before and up 2 pounds from a year ago.
Oklahoma City feeder cattle auction prices this week were steady to $1 higher for steers and heifers with prices for medium and large frame #1 steers: 400-450# $195-$206.50, 450-500# $169-$180, 500-550# $176-$182.50, 550-600# $165-$176, 600-650# $160-$172, 650-700# $146-$169.50, 700-750# $147-$165.50, 750-800# $148-$156.75, 800-900# $141-$153.60, and 900-1000# $136.75-$144.75/cwt.
The October live cattle futures contract closed at $125.25/cwt today, down 42 cents from last week's close. December fed cattle settled at $129.15, February at $131.17/cwt. The September feeder cattle futures contract ended the week at $157.30/cwt, up 73 cents from the previous Friday. October feeders settled at $159.27, up $1.25 for the week.
Source: Ron Plain and Scott Brown