October cattle closed slightly higher on the session yesterday during fairly quiet trading, then pushed to moderately higher for the day and to the highest level since July 14th. The market inched higher in quiet trade early yesterday as some traders expect a smaller showlist this week and stress on feedlot cattle during the past several weeks as factors which could lead to a higher cash market. There were no packer bids in the southern plains with offers at $113.00-$115.00. A higher cash market may be required to rationalize the current premium of futures to the cash market during a period of declining beef prices. October cattle are trading near $118.00, compared with the cash market at $108.50 last week. Many traders remain optimistic on both demand and supply issues for cattle. Short-term supply could be diminished by declining weights due to heat but average steer dressed weights are running sharply above last year as well as the 5-year average. Beef production last week was up 2.3% from last year. However, beef prices are trading near the lowest level since June 17th. Hot and humid weather during recent weeks may have taken a toll on consumer demand and this has led to very slow "fill-in" beef demand from retailers. The estimated cattle slaughter came in at 129,000 head yesterday. This brings the total for the week so far to 253,000 head, down from 256,000 head last week at this time and down from 255,000 head a year ago. Boxed beef cutout values were up 38 cents at mid-session yesterday and closed 15 cents higher at $173.77. This was down from $174.74 the prior week.
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