August cattle recovered from early pressure and managed to hold onto that strength through Friday's close. Outside market forces were extremely negative and put early pressure on the market, with poor economic news out of China and Europe plus poor employment data from the US the main source of early weakness. However, a recovery in the grain and gold markets as well as a selloff in the US Dollar provided a large amount of support. Memorial Day weekend beef clearance was better than expected, as restocking of inventory after clearing out the pipeline was seen as a positive factor and helped to lift beef prices higher on the week. Cash cattle traded steady on the week in Texas at $121.00, which left August cattle at a discount to the cash markets and was seen as an additional support factor for the market. Weekly U.S. beef export sales for the week ending May 24th came in at 20,400 metric tonnes, compared with the prior 4-week average of 16,533 metric tonnes. Cumulative sales for 2012 have reached 429,800 metric tonnes, up 4.0% from last year's pace. The estimated cattle slaughter came in at 130,000 head Friday and 73,000 head for Saturday. This brought the total for last week to 596,000 head, down from 636,000 head the previous week and down from 611,000 head a year ago. Boxed beef cutout values were up 4 cents at mid-session Friday and closed 6 cents lower at $197.25. This was up from $195.56 the prior week.
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