February cattle saw a wide trading range yesterday and closed moderately lower on the session but near the lows. Outside market forces were weak with lower grain and energy markets plus a surge higher in the US dollar but ideas that the supply will tighten in the weeks just ahead helped to support. However, cheaper pork and poultry prices may help slow beef demand and livestock traders in general are concerned with the short-term export outlook given the recent volatility in the US Dollar. Ideas that the global economy may expand at a decent pace this year plus a firmer tone for equity markets was seen to have provided further support to the market. There was also talk from some traders that the sharp setback in beef prices might help boost demand. However, continued weakness in the other agricultural markets plus ideas that the sharp beef price drop could dampen the cash cattle outlook this week may have helped to pressure the market later in the day. Boxed beef cutout values were down $2.25 at mid-session yesterday and closed $2.56 lower at $191.30. This was down from $193.48 the prior week and is the lowest beef market since December 20th. The estimated cattle slaughter came in at 132,000 head yesterday. This brings the total for the week so far to 401,000 head, up from 391,000 head last week at this time but down from 496,000 head a year ago. Average dressed steer weights for the week ending December 24th came in at 849 pounds, up from 846 pounds the previous week and down 0.7% from a year ago.