June cattle slid to a new contract low early in Friday's session but were able to recover from those early losses and finish in positive territory, which helped to reduce last week's losses to a little more than 2.0%. Many traders feel that recent weakness in the cattle market has come from an uncertain demand outlook. However, recent strength in beef prices as well as the current discount of futures prices to the cash market was seen to be supportive factors. News that the single mad cow this week was a 10-year old dairy cow would leave some traders to believe that the impact on US export potential and US consumer demand will be very small. Cash markets are at $119.00 in Texas and $122.00 in Nebraska ahead of the key barbeque demand season in May. Beef prices have risen during the past week and packer margins are improving. The estimated cattle slaughter came in at 115,000 head Friday and 8,000 head for Saturday. This brought the total for last week to 611,000 head, up from 598,000 head the previous week but down from 621,000 head a year ago. Boxed beef cutout values were down 9 cents at mid-session Friday and closed 47 cents lower at $190.27. This was up from $188.01 the prior week. Average dressed steer weights for the week ending April 14th came in at 837 pounds, down from 843 pounds the previous week but still up from 819 pounds last year.
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