The October cattle on feed report is bullish. USDA says September placements were down 1.9% and marketings were up 5.5%. The on-feed number is up 0.4% compared to last year.
The average price of choice beef in grocery stores during September was $5.868 per pound, down 4.7 cents from the month before, down 36.2 cents from a year ago, and the lowest monthly average since March 2014. All fresh beef at retail averaged $5.77 cents per pound during September.
The 5 area average price of 5 slaughter steers was $105.40/cwt during September, down $12.20 from the month before, down $30.60 from a year ago, and the lowest month since December 2010.
After four weeks of decline, fed cattle prices were slightly higher this week on moderate sales volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $98.24/cwt, up 65 cents from last week's average, but down $31.76 from a year ago. This is the second week with live-weight prices under $100/cwt since December 2010. The 5-area dressed steer price averaged $154.02/cwt, up 9 cents from the week before, but down $53.08 from a year ago.
Beef cutout value is lower this week. This morning, the choice boxed beef cutout value was $179.97/cwt, down $2.62 from the previous Friday. The select carcass cutout this morning was $167.58/cwt, down $4.60 from last week. The choice-select price spread is $12.39/cwt, the largest for a Friday morning since July 8.
This week's cattle slaughter totaled 602,000 head, up 0.2% (1,000 head) from last week and up 8.9% from a year ago.
The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on October 8 was 911 pounds, up 2 pounds from the week before, down 17 pounds from a year ago, and below the year-ago level for the 23rd week in a row.
Cattle prices were mixed this week at the Oklahoma City auction. Feeder cattle prices were steady to $2 lower while stocker cattle prices were steady to $2 higher. Prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight group were: 400-450# $128-146, 450-500# $126-$142, 500-550# $127-$140.50, 550-600# $116-$124.50, 600-650# $110.75-$130, 650-700# $119-$126, 700-750# $112.50-$124.75, 750-800# $114.25-$123, and 800-900# $118-$122/cwt.
Cattle futures ended the week strongly higher. The October live cattle futures contract settled at $101.15/cwt today, up $5.25 for the week. December fed cattle settled at $101.87/cwt, up $4.42 from the previous Friday. February fed cattle futures settled at $102.80/cwt, up $3.425 from the previous Friday. April live cattle closed at $102.07/cwt.
October feeder cattle futures ended the week at $121.87/cwt, up $1.495 from a week earlier. November feeder cattle gained $4.05 this week to settle at $119.70/cwt. The January contract closed the week at $115.50/cwt.