April cattle closed slightly lower for the day, after volatile and choppy trading on both sides of unchanged for a large period of the session. News that the cash market traded higher on the week was seen as a supportive factor, but choppy trading in the US stock market was seen as pressuring the market due to concerns for weaker consumer demand ahead due to rising energy prices. Cash cattle in the southern plains traded at $111.00, which was seen as slowing down a long liquidation selling trend. With diminishing fears for an explosive situation in North Africa and the Middle East, there are increasing expectations that the outlook for economic sensitive markets like cattle may see some improvement during today's session. Some traders also saw the trend for higher beef prices this week as a supportive factor for the market. Cash prices have reached their highest levels for more than seven years, and the weekly average may reach a record high this week. In October of 2003, a few steers traded at $113.00 and a few heifers at $116.00. The estimated cattle slaughter came in at 130,000 head yesterday. This brings the total for the week so far to 502,000 head, down from 514,000 head last week at this time but up from 493,000 head a year ago. Boxed beef cutout values were up 20 cents at mid-session yesterday and closed 6 cents lower at $170.39. This was up from $167.22 the prior week. Average dressed steer weights for the week ending February 12th came in at 835 pounds, down from 845 the previous week but still up 0.48% from a year ago.