This is Christmas week, thus the number of cattle reports are smaller than normal.
There were 396.619 million pounds of beef in cold storage at the end of November. That is 12% less than a year ago. Frozen beef stocks have been below the year-ago level every month of 2014.
After three weeks of decline, boxed beef prices rose this week. This morning the boxed beef cutout value for choice carcasses was $244.61/cwt, up $5.78 from the previous Friday and up $47.53 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout was $235.91/cwt this morning, up $5.78 from last week and up $44.93 from a year ago.
Fed cattle prices were also higher this week on moderate sales volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $162.01/cwt, up $4.50 from last week's average. The 5 area average dressed price for steers was $256.97/cwt, up $7.05 for the week and up $46.97 from this week last year.
For all of 2014, the 5 area price for slaughter steers averaged close to $155/cwt which is nearly $30 higher than the record annual average set just last year. This is the fifth consecutive year with record fed cattle prices.
There was no USDA report of livestock slaughter numbers today because of their Christmas holiday schedule.
The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on December 13 was 899 pounds, down 2 pounds from the week before, but up 27 pounds compared to the same week last year. This was the twentieth consecutive week with steer weights at least 20 pounds heavier than a year ago.
There was no feeder cattle auction at Oklahoma City this week. Most other cattle auctions were also closed for the holidays.
The December live cattle futures contract today settled at $164.75, up $4.00 for the week. February fed cattle settled at $162.47/cwt, up $2.37 from the previous Friday. The April contract closed at $161.47/cwt with a gain of $1.80 for the week.
Steadily rising corn prices are keeping pressure on feeder cattle futures. The January feeder cattle contract ended the week at $213.72/cwt, down $6.43 for the week. March feeders closed at $211.90/cwt, down $6.07 compared to last Friday. April feeders ended the week $5.37 lower at $212.70/cwt.