Compared to last week, calves early in the week traded steady to 5.00 lower then turning 5.00-10.00 lower, with heifers trading in many areas 12.00-15.00 lower. Yearlings on a light test traded steady to 5.00 lower, turning 10.00 lower mid to late week. Feeder cattle and calf markets were active following the Thanksgiving holiday week with many auctions selling two weeks’ worth of receipts. There were many attractive offerings this week spread throughout the Southern and Northern Plains as each week a larger percentage of the feeder offering has now been weaned for at least 30 days and starting to reach the desired timeframe of 45 days away from their mothers. Good demand was noted in Bassett, NE on Wednesday selling over 4400 head, as many reputation Sandhill cattle were on offer with over 450 head of steer calves weighing 600-650 lbs averaging 612 lbs sold for a weighted average price of 203.39; 265 head of their bigger brothers weighing between 900-950 lbs averaging 931 lbs sold for a weighted average price of 169.98. Markets were again rocked back on their heels this week as volatility in the cattle futures had a bad case of hangover after the Thanksgiving holiday with sharp losses.
Monday saw cattle futures start the week with sharp losses that continued into Tuesday until noon; then did a 360 degree turn around to close the day with sharp triple-digit gains leaving market watchers dazed and confused. But, reckless volatility reigned paramount on Wednesday as limit losses on Live Cattle and sharp triple-digit losses on Feeder Cattle gave back all their gains from Tuesday. There remains plenty of bearish concerns as feedlots are still seeing steep losses on fed cattle along with heavy front end supplies and holding cattle on feed longer. Weak export sales and a strong dollar that continues to hamper sales.
Cattle feeders are having a hard time getting in front of the cattle market as this bear market continues to eat everyone’s lunch with no way of feeding their way out of this problem. The packer has little incentive to come out and buy cattle when beef demand seems on the lackluster side. Volatility and concerns will remain in the air until this market can find some support as the cattle market is having a very hard time building open interest, especially in the futures. Live sales in the Southern Plains traded 1.00-3.00 lower from 124.00-125.00. Boxed-beef values are still struggling to find some footing hoping that consumers will soon tire of turkey sandwiches and hopefully beef will see some clearance at retail levels and see prices improve. Choice boxed-beef closed on Friday 1.89 lower at 202.60 compared to 204.40 last Friday.
One positive note the Restaurant Performance Index was released Monday November 30, and showed stronger same-store sales and more optimistic outlook among restaurant operators as the RPI posted moderate gain in October. The RPI stood at 102.1, up 0.7 percent from September. October represented the 32nd consecutive month which the RPI stood above 100, which signifies expansion. Auction volume included 43 percent weighing over 600 lbs and 37 percent heifers.