KANSAS CITY (Dow Jones)--Fed cattle prices in the Plains states this week were expected to be at least steady with many traders calling for gains of $1 per hundredweight on a live basis or more.

Prices last week were $1.50 higher on a live basis and steady to $1 higher on a dressed basis. Cattle sold at mostly $85 live in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas and $83 to $84 with a few up to $84.50 in Nebraska. On a dressed basis, cattle traded at $131 to $132 in Nebraska and up to $134 in Kansas.

The number of cattle sold was up from previous weeks, hinting at packer plans for a larger slaughter rate this week ahead of the holiday-shortened slaughter week the following week, the analysts said. It also indicates that packers do not want to be short of slaughter inventory, either because of strong beef orders, an outlook for tightening cattle supplies or both, they said.

Either way, it bodes well for the cattle feeder who is just breaking into profitable selling prices, market analysts said. They hoped futures prices wouldn't move sharply higher to encourage feeders to keep cattle off the market and then get behind in their marketings.

Beef prices also will be watched closely, they said. Wholesale prices were expected to continue their general firming trend.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Friday reported its choice boxed beef cutout price at $143.55 per hundredweight, down $0.16, while select beef was off $0.46 at $135.88. The volume of fabricated loads was 101 and there were 75 loads of trimmings and coarse grind product reported.

The HedgersEdge packer margin index is a plus $40.10 a head, compared with the previous index of a plus $51.45.

Urner Barry's Yellow Sheet Friday said buyer interest for quick-shipping products was rather limited because of previous commitments and the need to buy for only their most immediate needs.

-By Lester Aldrich, Dow Jones Newswires; 913-322-5179; lester.aldrich@dowjones.com