Active gains in most commodity and financial markets Wednesday sparked renewed interest in cattle futures. Hog contracts continued to post light to moderate losses as traders continue to adjust positions following outside market shifts and upcoming cattle and hog reports.
Strong underlying gains developed in deferred live cattle futures, helping to push all 2022 contracts to triple-digit gains. The focus on renewed gains of outside markets and a much less bearish overall outlook on the economic situation Wednesday helped bring hesitant traders from the sidelines for the first time this week. Nearby live cattle futures posted moderate support, but the focus on trade continues to be based on contracts next year when overall cattle and beef supplies are expected to be even tighter than current levels. Traders are also expected light to moderate pullback in on feed numbers in Friday’s report, which would help confirm the overall tightness in supply levels through the first half of 2022. October live cattle closed $0.82 higher at $123.27, December live cattle closed $0.75 higher at $128.55, and February live cattle closed $1.12 higher at $132.60. Cash cattle markets started trading right away Wednesday morning. Early morning trade is somewhat unusual, but packer interest seemed to be moderately active through the day. This attracted light to moderate trade levels with most trade steady to $1 per cwt lower than last week’s weighted averages. Trade in the South is reported at mostly $124 per cwt, steady with last week. While dressed trade in Nebraska developed at $198 per cwt, $1 per cwt lower than last week’s average. Asking prices on most cattle still on showlists remain at $125 live and $200 dressed. The Fed Cattle Exchange Auction Wednesday listed a total of 3,941 head, of which 444 actually sold, 628 were scratched from the auction and 2,869 head were listed as unsold, as they did not meet the reserve prices that ranged from $122 to $124.50. Opening prices ranged from $118 to $122, high bids ranged from $124 to $124.25. The state-by-state breakdown looks like this: Texas, 2,958 total head, with 444 head sold at $124 to $124.25, 1,886 head went unsold and 624 were scratched from the auction, note of these 624 head that were scratched, 273 head were sold at $124 before the Fed Cattle Exchange Auction started. Kansas, 533 total head, all of which went unsold; Nebraska, 450 total head, all of which went unsold.
Wednesday’s slaughter is estimated at 122,000 head, 1,000 more than a week ago and 1,000 more than year ago totals.
Boxed beef prices closed lower: choice down $3.54 ($307.83) and select down $2.51 ($275.50) with a movement of 186 loads (102.40 loads of choice, 52.13 loads of select, 3.14 loads of trim and 28.22 loads of ground beef).
THURSDAY’S CASH CATTLE CALL:
Steady to $1 lower. Light to moderate trade that developed Wednesday morning could be setting the tone for cash cattle activity for the week. More trade is expected over the next two days, but prices may not move significantly from current levels.
Active price support moved into most feeder cattle trade Wednesday with triple-digit gains seen in October through January contracts. September futures gave back initial support with very limited trade in the spot month contract left most traders focusing on the October and November contracts. Strength in outside markets helped to bring buyers back from the sidelines, as feeder cattle futures followed the lead of live cattle futures higher. Even with the support seen in nearby contracts, feeder cattle futures continue to hover in the lower end of the price cycle, creating additional potential for noncommercial traders to step back into the market following active liquidation over the last month. Traders are also starting to focus on the upcoming cattle on feed report ,which will be released Friday afternoon. Cattle placements during the month of August are estimated at 99.5% year ago levels. Analysts ranges for placements remain wide, from 95 to 102.8% of last year, creating less agreement of just where final numbers may land. This could create a major shift in price levels early next week. September feeders closed $0.05 lower at $154.80, October feeders closed $1.05 higher at $157.67 and November feeders closed $1.27 higher at $158.22. The CME Feeder Cattle Index for Sept. 21: $153.57, down $0.20.