October cattle closed sharply higher on the session Friday, and finished up 185 points for the week. Positive support from outside market forces along with strength from equities and commodity markets was also thought to have supported the market. Last week's rally pushed the market to the highest price level since July 13th. Projections for increased demand from retailers for Labor Day features as well as follow-through buying from a jump in beef and live cattle cash prices was also thought to support futures prices. Once Labor Day buying is complete, many in the market will shift their focus towards exports and beef prices for any indication for the cash cattle price outlook. The cattle market saw an impressive rally on Thursday and Friday as many traders moved to own cattle with cash markets trading up at $116.00, up $3.00-$4.00 from the previous week. Beef prices were up strong on the week, with expectations for increased consumer demand over the Labor Day holiday as well as continued strong export levels. The estimated cattle slaughter came in at 127,000 head Friday and 26,000 head for Saturday. This brought the total for last week to 661,000 head, up from 657,000 head the previous week and up from 645,000 head a year ago. Beef production for the week was at 510.5 million pounds, up 2.1% from last year. Boxed beef cutout values were up $1.53 at mid-session Friday and closed $1.78 higher at $179.81. This was up from $172.64 the prior week, and is the highest beef market since July 19th.
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