April cattle closed sharply higher on the session yesterday, as new highs for hogs and expectations for meat export demand to remain strong were seen as supportive factors. Higher grain prices were felt to have supported deferred contracts, as August cattle recovered half of the losses of the previous five trading sessions after hitting the lowest price levels since January 10th into the close on Tuesday. News of lower cash cattle trade with futures already holding a stiff premium to the cash market was seen as a negative factor and pressured the market during overnight trading. Many traders see tightening supply and a strong uptrend for cash cattle prices ahead, but Texas cash cattle traded $1.00 lower yesterday at $105.00. The estimated cattle slaughter came in at 126,000 head yesterday. This brings the total for the week so far to 381,000 head, up from 375,000 head last week at this time and up from 374,000 head a year ago. Boxed beef cutout values were up 53 cents at mid-session yesterday, and closed 31 cents higher at $173.59. This was up from $171.91 the prior week, and beef prices are at their highest level since July 10th of 2008. For the USDA Cattle Inventory report on Friday, many traders see the US herd falling about 1.5% over the past year with the herd already at the smallest level since the 1950's. Hefty cow slaughter for much of the past year and an apparent reluctance to hold back breeding stock for expansion has been thought to kept total supply higher than expected during the past year.
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