USDA's November Cattle on Feed report said the number of cattle on feed was 2.1 % higher at the start of November than a year ago. They said October placements were down 3.7% and marketings were down 3.4% compared to a year ago. The numbers were all close to pre-release trade estimates.
The average price of choice beef at retail during October was $6.231 per pound. That is 0.1 cents higher than the month before, but 1.0 cent lower than in October 2014. The October 2015 price for all fresh beef in grocery stores averaged $6.044 per pound, down 1.5 cents from the month before, but up 10.9 cents from a year ago. The October fresh beef price was the lowest since April.
The 5-area average price for slaughter steers during October was $133.40/cwt. That is $2.60 lower than the month before and $31.20 lower than in October 2014.
This morning the choice boxed beef cutout value was $204.77/cwt, down $4.60 from the previous Friday and down $50.88 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout was $192.99/cwt, down $7.95 from last week. As is often the case at this time of year, the choice-select spread (currently $11.78/cwt) is much wider than normal.
Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $123.00/cwt, down $3.27 from last week's average and down $46.00 from a year ago. The 5 area average dressed price this week for steers was $194.50/cwt, down $6.97 for the week and down $70.50 compared to the same week last year.
Slaughter weights continue to be very heavy. The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on November 7 was 921 pounds, up 1 pound from the week before, up 18 pounds compared to the same week last year, above the year-ago level for the 73rd consecutive week, and 15 pounds heavier than any week prior to September.
Cattle slaughter this week totaled 571,000 head, up 2.7% from the week before and up 0.2% from the same week last year.
Feeder cattle prices at Oklahoma City were steady to $5 lower this week. Prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight group were: 400-450# $215-$247, 450-500# $215-$239, 500-550# $190-$218, 550-600# $188.75-$210, 600-650# $160-$198, 650-700# $160-$175, 700-750# $145-$171.50, 750-800# $162.50-$169, 800-900# $164.75-$176.50 and 900-1000#, $168/cwt.
Cattle futures were lower this week. The December live cattle futures contract settled at $129.70/cwt today, down 97 cents for the week. February fed cattle settled at $132.02/cwt, down 63 cents from the previous week. The April contract ended the week at $132.75/cwt.
January feeder cattle ended the week at $163.65/cwt, down 90 cents from a week earlier. March gained $1.10 this week and closed at $162.02/cwt.