February cattle traded moderately lower on the session early yesterday led by weakness in the beef market from late Tuesday but recovered into the mid-session and closed slightly higher for the day. Ideas that the market will need to absorb declining supply ahead helped to support the market. Sideways action in the beef market over the past week has helped to keep trading choppy as meat markets are sensitive to economic conditions in the US and abroad, and a more positive outlook for the global economy for 2012 may help to provide some underlying longer-term support. The supply situation still looks supportive for 2012 and if a more positive demand tone emerges early this year, the tightening supply should continue to strengthen an uptrend in the cash market. Cash cattle are bid at $119.00 in the southern plains, with offers at $124.00-$125.00. The estimated cattle slaughter came in at 131,000 head yesterday. This brings the total for the week so far to 269,000 head, up from 262,000 head last week at this time but down from 367,000 head a year ago. Boxed beef cutout values were down 15 cents at mid-session yesterday and closed 22 cents lower at $193.86. This was up from $192.25 the prior week.