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Ron Plain Cattle Outlook: Producer Losses Continue.

Nov 05, 2016

Cattle Outlook

Ron Plain and Scott Brown
Ag Economics, MU
November 4, 2016

There has been some good news for the economy lately. Third quarter GDP growth rebounded to 2.9% and the October unemployment rate declined to 4.9%. That should be positive for meat demand.

The Federal Reserve Bank did not raise interest rates at their November meeting. A rate hike is expected in December.

The Livestock Marketing Information Center estimated cattle feeding losses at $160.53 per steer for September closeouts. That was the biggest loss since February, but less than half the loss of September 2015. Better returns to feeding would help slow the decline in feeder cattle prices.

Fed cattle prices were a bit higher this week on heavy sales volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $104.47/cwt, up $1.34 from last week's average, but down $25.97 from a year ago. The 5-area dressed steer price averaged $162.59/cwt, up 82 cents from the week before, but down $42.15 from a year ago. This is the third consecutive week with higher fed cattle prices.

Beef cutout value is higher this week. This morning, the choice boxed beef cutout value was $189.02/cwt, up $5.91 from the previous Friday. The select carcass cutout this morning was $173.75/cwt, up $3.86 from last week. The choice-select spread remains large at $13.22/cwt

This week's cattle slaughter totaled 606,000 head, down 1.6% from last week, but up 7.4% from a year ago. Year-to-date cattle slaughter is up 5.0% and beef production is up 5.1%.

The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on October 22 was 915 pounds, unchanged from the week before, down 12 pounds from a year ago, and below the year-ago level for the 25th consecutive week.

Cattle prices were higher this week at the Oklahoma City auction. Feeder steer prices were $3 to $6 higher and stocker steers were $3 to $8 higher than last week. Prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight group were: 400-450# $138-149, 450-500# $138-$149, 500-550# $130-$142, 550-600# $111-$132, 600-650# $109-$129, 650-700# $113-$132, 700-750# $111-$130.50, 750-800# $117.50-$131, 800-900# $118-$136.50, and 900-1000# $119-$130.75/cwt.

Live cattle futures were mixed this week. The December live cattle futures contract settled at $102.72/cwt today, down $1.63 for the week. February fed cattle settled at $104.30/cwt, down 62 cents from the previous Friday. April fed cattle futures settled at $104.35/cwt, up 10 cents from the previous Friday. June live cattle gained 53 cents to settle at $96.70/cwt.

Thanks to lower corn prices, feeder cattle futures gained ground this week. November feeder cattle futures ended the week at $125.62/cwt, up $4.07 from a week earlier. January feeder cattle gained $1.85 this week to settle at $117.85/cwt. The March contract closed the week at $115.32/cwt, up $2.17 for the week.