June cattle closed sharply higher on the session yesterday, and posted the highest close since April 23rd as a large futures discount to the cash market and a lack of fresh news regarding last week's mad cow issue are widely seen as positive developments for cattle prices. as other countries have not banned US beef. Reports that the single mad cow last week was a 10-year old dairy cow has some traders believing that the ultimate impact on US export potential and US consumer demand will be very small. weakness in beef prices late Friday and ideas that weekend clearance at the retail level was sluggish due to cold and wet Midwest weather were seen as pressuring cattle futures. However, warmer weather this week and through the weekend may help to support better retail demand levels. With the cash market near $119 in Texas and $122 in Nebraska, the stiff futures discount ahead of the key barbeque demand season in May and June has some traders thinking that the market could be vulnerable to a recovery bounce. The showlist is said to be smaller this week and beef prices have recovered from the weakness generated from the pink slime media attention. Boxed beef cutout values were down 1 cent at mid-session yesterday and closed 13 cents higher at $190.40. This was up from $188.57 the prior week and up from $176.70 just a few weeks ago. Lean fresh 50% trimming prices have recovered from $52.80 a few weeks ago to $88.90. Slaughter came in at 115,000 head which was a little lower than expected and may be a signal of weaker packer demand. This was down from 120,000 head last week and down from 129,000 head a year ago as this time.
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