The cattle market closed slightly lower on the session on Friday, but finished sharply higher for the week. February cattle pushed moderately lower early as a broad commodity market sell-off was seen as pressuring prices, with some additional concern that new tightening measures will slow the Chinese economy and ideas that the market has already priced-in the recent low imports/high exports news also were thought to have weakened the market. A strong move higher in beef prices up towards their peak demand levels during the spring, along with a contraction in the South Korea meat supply and continued slow imports from Australia and Argentina are all seen as key supportive forces for the cattle market. Texas cash cattle traded $1.50 to $2.00 higher on the week to $108.00, which was seen as slightly negative with some traders expecting a $109.00 trade earlier in the week. Beef production for the week was 491.9 pounds, down almost 1.0% from the previous week and down 2.9% from last year. The estimated cattle slaughter came in at 123,000 head Friday and 16,000 head for Saturday. This brought the total for last week to 628,000 head, down from 636,000 head the previous week and down from 656,000 head a year ago. Boxed beef cutout values were up 19 cents at mid-session Friday and closed 73 cents higher at $169.73. This was up from $165.83 the prior week.
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