Cattle Outlook: Retail beef demand up for 7th consecutive month

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This report will not be issued next week due to the Thanksgiving holiday.

The November Cattle on Feed report said the number of cattle on feed in large feedlots was down 5.7% at the start of the month. October placements were up 9.8% and October marketings were up 1.0%. All of these numbers were very close to pre-release trade predictions.

The average retail price of choice beef during October was a record $5.355 per pound, up 6.1 cents from the month before, up 35.1 cents from a year ago, and up 0.4 cents from the old record set in August. The average October retail price for all fresh beef, $4.977 per pound, was 0.2 cents below the record set in August.

Retail beef demand was up 0.8% during September. This was the seventh consecutive month with demand above the year-ago level. Export demand for U.S. beef was up 8.0% during September.

EPA has proposed lower targets for 2014 biofuels production. If it becomes the final rule, then 2014 production of ethanol from corn might be close to 13 billion gallons rather than the 14.4 billion gallons implied by the original Renewable Fuels Standard.

Fed cattle prices averaged above $130 for the fifth consecutive week. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $130.45/cwt, down 40 cents from the week before, but up $3.12 from the same week last year. Steers sold on a dressed basis averaged $206.45/cwt this week, up $1.04 from last week and $6.06 higher than a year ago.

This morning, the boxed beef cutout value for choice carcasses was $198.39/cwt, down $2.81 from the previous Friday, but up $2.40 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout is $186.83/cwt, down $1.41 for the week, but up $12.53 from the same day last year.

This week's cattle slaughter totaled 623,000 head, up 4.0% from last week and up 7.2% from the corresponding week last year which was low since it included Thanksgiving.

The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on November 9 was 877 pounds, unchanged from the week before and up 1 pound from a year earlier.

Oklahoma City feeder cattle auction prices were steady to $5 higher this week. Prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight were: 400-450# $218-$238, 450-500# $204-$222, 500-550# $195-$220, 550-600# $183-$200, 600-650# $154-$184.75, 650-700# $159-$175, 700-750# $154-$170, 750-800# $151.50-$167, 800-900# $152-$167.50, and 900-950# $153-$155/cwt.

The December live cattle futures contract closed at $131.47/cwt today, down $1.93 from last week's close. February fed cattle settled at $131.80, down $3.00 for the week. April settled at $132.57/cwt.

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