The stock market has had a wild couple of weeks. In the six days ending on Tuesday August 25, the Dow Jones Industrial Average declined by 1,878 points (10.7%). On Wednesday and Thursday it gained back 988 points (6.3%). The turmoil is mostly related to concerns about the Chinese economy.
Thursday, the Commerce Department said the U.S. economy grew at an annual rate of 3.7% during the second quarter. This follows a dismal 0.6% growth rate in the first quarter. Meat demand usually correlates with economic growth.
USDA says frozen red meat and poultry stocks totaled 2.403 billion pounds on July 31, up 2.5% from the month before and up 16.7% from a year ago. Beef in cold storage totaled 455 million pounds, down 4% from the month before, but up 23.7% from a year ago.
Fed cattle prices this week were lower on light volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $143.40/cwt, down $3.87 from last week's average and down $11.16 from a year ago. The 5 area average dressed price this week for steers was $226.97/cwt, down $5.58 for the week and down $16.01 compared to the same week last year.
This morning the choice boxed beef cutout value was $243.63/cwt, down $1.14 from the previous Friday and down $2.36 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout was $232.83/cwt this morning, down $1.99 from last week.
Cattle slaughter this week totaled 545,000 head, up 0.9% from the week before, but down 7.3% from the same week last year. Cattle slaughter has been below the year-ago level every week since the start of 2014 except for four.
The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on August 15 was 900 pounds, up 5 pounds from the week before, up 21 pounds compared to the same week last year, and above the year-ago level for 61 consecutive weeks.
Feeder cattle prices at Oklahoma City were $3 to $15 lower this week. Prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight group were: 400-450# $250-$305, 450-500# $240-$260, 500-550# $234-$244.75, 550-600# $217-$233, 600-650# $213-$226, 650-700# $204.50-$227, 700-750# $198.75-$218, 750-800# $189-$215, 800-900# $195-$205 and 900-1000#, $172.50-$199/cwt.
Cattle futures were lower this week. The August live cattle futures contract settled at $146.52/cwt today, up 5 cents for the week. October fed cattle settled at $143.97/cwt, down $2.35 from the previous week. December fed cattle settled at $146.05/cwt.
September feeder cattle ended the week at $202.40/cwt, down $4.42 from seven days earlier. The October feeder cattle contract lost $5.05 to close at $198.92/cwt.
USDA says that only 16% of pastures were in poor or very poor condition as of August 23. That is the same as the week before and down 4 points from a year ago.