Cattle Outlook: Fed Cattle Prices Slightly Higher

US - USDA says 72 per cent of the corn crop was in good or excellent condition on 27 May. That compares to 77 per cent good or excellent the week before and 63 per cent a year ago, write Ron Plain and Scott Brown.
calendar icon 4 June 2012
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Ron Plain
Ron Plain

The Crop Progress report says 89 per cent of the soybean crop was planted by 27 May compared to an average of only 61 per cent on that date. Nationally, 22 per cent of pastures were rated poor or very poor in late May. That compares to 19 per cent poor or very poor the week before and 21 per cent a year ago.

This week’s news for the US economy was not good. On Thursday the government lowered its estimate of first quarter growth from 2.2 per cent to 1.9 per cent. Today they said the unemployment rate increased to 8.2 per cent in May from 8.1 per cent in April. The economy added only 69,000 new jobs in May, the fewest in a year.

For the second week in a row, the choice carcass cutout value was higher and the select cutout was lower. On Friday morning, the choice boxed beef carcass cutout value was $197.35/cwt, up $2.64 from the previous Friday. The select carcass cutout was down 27 cents from the previous week to $185.82/cwt of carcass weight. The choice-select spread is now $11.52/cwt, the most since early January.

Fed cattle prices were slightly higher this week. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $121.90/cwt, up 63 cents from last week and up $17.02/cwt from the same week last year. Steer prices on a dressed basis averaged $194.78/cwt this week, up $1.28 from a week ago and up $24.57 from a year ago.

This week’s cattle slaughter totaled 596,000 head, down 6.3 per cent from the week before and down 2.5 per cent from a year ago. The average dressed weight for steers for the week ending on May 19 was 841 pounds, up 6 pounds from the week before, up 22 pounds from a year ago, and above a year earlier for the 19th week in a row. Year-to-date beef production is down 2.9 per cent.

Because of Monday’s holiday, Oklahoma City didn’t have a feeder cattle auction this week. Missouri feeder cattle prices were mostly $1 to $8 higher this week with the ranges for medium and large frame #1 steers: 400-450# $180-$225, 450-500# $175.25-$214, 500-550# $170-$205, 550-600# $162-$195, 600-650# $152-$186.50, 650-700# $149-$173, 700-750# $148.25-$163.25, 750-800# $153.50-$162, 800-900# $141-$156, and 900-1000# $135-150.25/cwt.

Fed cattle futures ended the week slightly higher. The June live cattle contract settled at $117.70, up 5 cents from the previous Friday. The August contract gained 50 cents this week to end at $119.60. October ended the week at $123.95 and December at $127.30/cwt.

The August feeder cattle contract settled at $157.37/cwt, down $1.13 from the previous Friday. September feeder cattle lost 80 cents this week to close at $158.67. October settled at $159.75/cwt.

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