April cattle closed sharply higher on the session yesterday, and posted the highest close since February 1st. The market traded lower early during the session, but made a quick recovery and moved up to the highest price levels for one week. Many traders saw the weaker beef market again on Friday as a negative force, but ideas that demand is about to recover after a period of sluggish snowed-in usage along with talk of tightening supplies ahead were widely seen as helping to support the market. A decline towards the lowest levels since January 11th for beef prices on Friday helped to limit the rally, but the break of the past few weeks along with a sluggish cash market leaves futures at a large premium to the cash market. Some traders see declining supplies along with a firm export outlook as reasons to project tightening domestic supply ahead along with higher prices. The estimated cattle slaughter came in at 127,000 head yesterday. This was up from 124,000 head last week and up from 111,000 head a year ago as this time. Boxed beef cutout values were up 11 cents at mid-session yesterday, and closed 1 cent higher at $167.67. This was down from $169.97 the prior week.
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