Compared to last week, the bulk of the feeder supply consisted of calves which traded mostly 10.00-20.00 lower, instances 25.00-30.00 lower. Yearlings on a light supply traded mostly 5.00-15.00 lower. Direct trade was mostly 5.00- 12.00 lower. Last week’s CME “Sky is Falling” attitude continued into this week, keeping stomachs turning and cattle prices hard to manage and resentful to say the least. Buyers became noticeably price cautious and conscious on calves and yearlings.
There was optimism on Monday in Pratt, KS at the Pratt Livestock Auction sold a number of reputation ranch strings of calves with some top prices coming from the Mule Creek Ranch selling 72 head of fancy value added source aged verified Angus steer calves weighing 358 lbs sold for 351.00 and 104 head of their bigger brothers weighing 416 lbs dropped the gavel at 326.00. In Bassett, NE on Wednesday sold 141 head of yearling steers averaging 1013 lbs sold for a weighted average price of 174.10. Traders continued to run for cover with limit losses on Monday crushing any hopes for stability, then free-falling on Tuesday all looking like the extreme lows experienced in September maybe revisited. To quote Yogi Berra “its déjà vu all over again”.
Cattle futures have remained very volatile, as volatility appears to be out of control. CME cattle futures rebounded on Wednesday with limit moves higher and added to their positions on Thursday but closed Friday with sharp triple-digit losses as the agony and the ecstasy continues. Prices for futures and cash seem to fall faster and further than expected or as one would suggest. Before last week the market had tried to hold the line and continue to wait day by day to see what the next move would be. We have had tremendous weather to feed cattle that have performed very well and a packer who hasn’t had to chase the market; adjusting their kill schedules and having plenty of cattle bought forward. The heavy weight fed cattle situation is improving but not over, U.S. beef exports are near 13 percent lower year to date.
There remains ample supplies of beef, pork and poultry in Cold Storage and with the holiday season upon us, ham and turkey are popular. When you put this all together it’s hard to get overly bullish. Also, we have a hog market that has had a bearish assault on the cash trade as well as the futures. This has the price of hogs cheap in comparison to beef. Most commodities this week seem to be under pressure from the Stock Market, precious metals, crude oil and grain markets. The Fed managed to say again that the long-awaited interest rate hike is still on the table for December as Wall Street investors seem to be bracing themselves for the interest rate hike. USDA released its WASDE grain report this week and stayed true to the old adage a “big crop gets bigger” with forecast for a record soybean crop of 3.98 bb with soybeans averaging 48.3 bpa.
Corn production came in at 13.65 bb with average yield of 169.3 bpa with ending stocks at 1.76 bb up 199 mb from last month. Boxed-beef values have trended lower this week which is typical for this time of the year as cut-outs could be more focused on retail sales after Thanksgiving. There is also plenty of meat protein available at this time pressuring prices lower. Closing boxed-beef values for Choice closed 2.50 lower on Friday at 209.30 compared to last Friday’s close at 215.66. Auction volume included 35 percent weighing over 600 lbs and 37 percent heifers.