Compared to last week, yearlings traded mostly 2.00-5.00 lower, with calves selling unevenly steady. Weather curtailed receipts throughout much of the Southwest and Southeast as snow/ice storms moved across the trading areas. Significantly reduced sales were reported in Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Kentucky and Tennessee where many stocker buyers go to fill their springtime orders. Pressure still looms over the market with neither buyers nor sellers content and about the only market participant satisfied is someone who sold cattle two months ago. Lightweight stocker calf prices were very uneven depending on conditions and locations.
Heavier yearling feeders weighing over 800 lbs found few friends with the continued erosion of the CME cattle futures and few options to achieve profitability. At times it almost appears that the feeder cattle market has given up demand for lent. Feeder and Live cattle contracts just keep getting beat up and continued a downtrend that accelerated last Friday and continued into the first part of the week. Then cattle futures did spark to life on Wednesday and Thursday but for the most part have remained unresponsive to anything that can be construed as positive.
We have lost the fund positions in the cattle futures, as the relentless buying that drove the market last year has stopped. The West Coast Port labor dispute has ended, which was a bearish factor on the market but has failed to put any positive spin on the future prices. Beef demand for the domestic market remains critical for the US beef industry. Harsh winter conditions in the Northeastern seaboard have certainly played a role in slowed foodservice business and demand.
There is some positive news this week, as we are starting to see a late February rally in Boxed-beef as cutouts have closed with sharp gains on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week and modest gains on Friday. Choice has gained over 5.00 and select over 9.00 in the past week with Choice product closing at 247.58 on Friday afternoon, maybe looking forward to warmer spring days ahead. Auction volume included 73 percent over 600 lbs and 38 percent heifers.