Compared to last week, yearlings traded mostly firm to 5.00 higher, with instances 6.00-8.00 higher throughout the Midwest and Northern Plains. Trading was most active on feeders weighing 550-850 lbs with lightweight calves lightly tested nationwide but trading mostly in the Southeast steady to 5.00 higher. Once again, weather curtailed receipts throughout much of the trade area as ice/snow storms moved across the Southwest and Southeast causing consignors to suspend selling cattle until suitable weather arrives. Major auctions such as Oklahoma National Stockyards, Joplin Regional Stockyards, and Ozark Regional Stockyards in West Plains, Mo all operated with very limited receipts, as March came roaring-in like a lion.
In the Midwest and Northern Plains where feeder cattle had good receipts, buyers were aggressively readying themselves for the arrival of the lamb. Backgrounders with spring pastures to graze are making their trip to the salebarn or calling their favorite order buyer. Longtime weaned and fully vaccinated froze-out short yearlings that are showing a bit more age than size along with feeders that are thin-fleshed and empty weighing condition usually fit the bill. By the time green grass gets here these types of feeders will be long gone, so buyers are collecting them while they are available. At the St. Joseph Stockyards in St. Joseph, Mo on Wednesday sold near 200 head of 700-750 lbs steers averaging near 725 lbs sold with a weighted average price of 235.30 with a near pot load of fancy blacks weighing 711 lbs topping out at 240.00 and a pot load weighing 752 lbs tipping the scales at 235.00. In Ogallala, NE on Thursday sold 150 head of steers averaging 620 lbs sold with a weighted average price of 273.90.
Both Live and Feeder Cattle futures finally held on to some impressive gains, firing on all cylinders for once. Warm weather could have warmed the hearts (attitudes anyway) of traders, as bad news and continued selling were put on hold so far this week. The cattle complex is still very volatile to get too comfortable in thinking that cattle futures have bottomed and will continue higher.
The bears came back out on Tuesday of this week and pulled back after some impressive gains, but stormed back on Wednesday with mega moves in the Feeder Cattle contracts on limit higher contracts with continued gains through Friday. Perhaps strength came from rising temperatures to the mid-40s and forecasts into the 60s next week across much of the US over the next couple of weeks after experiencing one of the worst winters in quite some time.
Packers continue to hunt and peck to top out each weeks needs on Negotiated cash trade, as formulas and contracted cattle bought over time will continue at least till seasonal demand improves. The real question: Is the Boxed-Beef rally slowing? Expectations from analyst are that the current rally is close to ending before it starts to drift sideways to lower until seasonal demand picks up. Spring weather can create intentions that consumers will dine out more and start to grill, as Daylight savings is scheduled for this weekend. Auction volume included 68 percent over 600 lbs and 41 percent heifers.