After several weeks of retreat, the cash market for fed cattle took a bullish turn for the week ending April 15. Is it the start of a rally or just a head fake?
The weekly weighted average cash steer price for the Five Area region, which includes the major feeding areas of Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Colorado and Iowa, was $128.01, compared with $124.33 the previous week, which was $3.68 higher.
The Five Area weighted average cash dressed steer price was $205.30, compared with $198.01 the previous week, for an impressive jump of $7.29 higher.
The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 99,586 head, compared with about 51,268 the previous week.
The Five Area average formula price was $203.69, compared with $207.29 the previous week, about $3.60 lower.
Estimated total federally-inspected harvest was 590,000 head, compared with 551,000 head the same week last year, about 39,000 higher than last year. Year-to-date total is well over 8 million, about 500,000 head over last year.
Five Area formula sales totaled 160,086 head, compared with about 161,440 the previous week. The total national formula cattle harvest was 232,000 head for the week.
Nationally reported forward contracted cattle harvested was about 71,000 head, compared with 69,000 head the previous week. Packers have more than 349,000 head of forward contracts available for April, along with 218,000 for May. That roughly leaves about 100,000 head each week for the last two weeks of April.
The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending April 1 was 6 pounds lower at 862 pounds, compared to 884 pounds last year.
The Choice-Select spread was $12.60 on Friday, about $2.87 higher compared with the previous week. That compares with a $9.40 spread last year. The spread is wider now because of demand for Choice steaks. Last year, the Choice-Select spread topped out at more than $20 in June.