The cash cattle market remained at a standstill on Thursday afternoon with packers not yet willing to test the country’s bullish resolve. Needless to say impressive strength in live and feeder futures on Thursday has worked to underpin country psychology. Asking prices are firm at 130.00 in the South and 207.00 plus in the North. Look for significant trade volume to develop sometime on Friday. The kill totaled 128,000 head, 2,000 less than last week and 4,000 smaller than last year.
Boxed beef cutout values were higher on moderate demand and offerings. Choice boxed beef was up .97 at 194.91, and select was up .66 at 183.28.
Chicago Mercantile Exchange live cattle contracts settled 62 to 147 points higher. Sharp gains quickly developed in the live contracts near midsession as a combination of technical and fundamental support surged. Higher boxed beef values and ideas of tighter supplies through much of the year are helping to drive additional buyer interest into the market. February settled 1.47 higher at 133.85, and April was up 1.15 at 137.32.
Feeder cattle ended the session 77 to 115 higher on support from the live pit as well as a lack of direction in the grain markets. January settled 1.15 higher at 152.35, and March was up 1.00 at 154.90.
Feeder cattle receipts at the Huss Platte Valley Auction in Nebraska totaled 2885 head on Wednesday. Compared to two weeks ago, steers sold fully steady to 3.00 higher and heifers were 2.00 to 4.00 higher. Demand was mostly moderate from the normal slate of buyers. The sale consisted of mostly home raised calves and feeders. Feeder steers medium and large 1 averaging 730 lbs. brought 154.08 per hundredweight. 668 lb. heifers traded at 144.26.
Lean hogs settled mostly 15 to 112 points higher with just a couple of the far deferred contracts in the red. The complex posted triple digit gains based on the combination of commercial investment support quickly stepping back into the market. The lack of support in the grain markets and fear that continued drought conditions through the upcoming year could rally meat prices during 2013 created additional technical and fundamental support in the complex. February settled .22 higher at 86.40, and April was up .92 at 90.17.
There was slow market activity with light demand in the cash hog market on Thursday. Barrows and gilts in the Iowa/Minnesota direct trade closed .96 higher at 82.19, the West was up .50 at 81.52, and Eastern markets closed 1.02 lower at 80.69. Missouri direct base carcass meat price was 1.00 higher from 76.00 to 79.00. Terminal hogs were steady from 51.50 to 56.00.
Pork trading was moderate with light to moderate demand and offerings. Pork carcass cutout value was up 1.71 at 83.10.
Thursday’s hog slaughter was estimated at 433,000 head, 4,000 more than last week, and 3,000 greater than last year.
For the week ending December 29, Iowa barrows and gilts averaged 275.8 pounds, 2.2 pounds heavier than the prior week. Heavier late-year weights may suggest that finishing floors have lost a degree of currentness.