April cattle closed 45 higher on the session Friday, but down 105 points for the week. The market traded higher early in the session Friday with April up as much as 70 points higher as strong gains in the stock market and a better outlook for consumer demand widely seen as the main positive factors for the market.
Higher cash markets were also felt to have supported the market and offset the negative effects of sluggish beef prices. Some traders feel that the US consumer could back away from higher-priced beef cuts if gasoline prices rise sharply into the summer. Weekly U.S. beef export sales came in at 23,100 metric tonnes, compared with the prior 4-week average of 15,100 tonnes. Cumulative sales for 2011 have reached 189,000 metric tonnes, up 39.9% from last year's pace. The estimated cattle slaughter came in at 124,000 head Friday and 16,000 head for Saturday. This brought the total for last week to 642,000 head, down from 651,000 head the previous week but up from 636,000 head a year ago. Beef production for the week was estimated at 498.9 million pounds, which was up 2.7% from last year. Boxed beef cutout values were down 16 cents at mid-session Friday and closed 30 cents lower at $170.06, but up from $167.29 the prior week.