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Fed Cattle Recap

Cash fed cattle catch a tailwind on CME rally

The cash market for fed cattle was stronger for the week ending Dec. 17, buoyed by a pre-Christmas rally in the futures market.

A pre-Christmas rally in the futures market lent strength to the fed cattle cash trade last week. The finished cattle trade was about $1-$2 per cwt higher and got better as the week progress on the heels of the CME rally. The rally in the futures market also influenced 57 loads of fed cattle to be tendered for CME delivery in South Dakota.   

The weekly weighted average cash steer price for the five Area region, which includes the major central feeding areas, was $111.39 per cwt, compared with $109.52 the previous week, which was $1.87 higher.

The cash dressed steer price was $174.13, compared with $169.92 the previous week.      

The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 70,932 head, compared with about 61,000 the previous week.

Five Area formula sales totaled 171,818 head, compared with about 167,000 the previous week. The Five Area average formula price was $179.38, compared with $179.07 the previous week.  

Nationally reported forward contracted cattle harvested was about 60,000 head, compared with 49,000 the previous week. Packers have over 226,000 head of forward contracts available for December and about 215,000 for January. USDA mandatory price reporting showed 127,000 head increase in contracts through early 2018 that have been signed up during this last week.

The latest average national steer carcass weight for week ending Dec. 3 was 3 pounds lower at 913 pounds, compared with 913 pounds last year, which dropped 10 pounds.

The Choice-Select spread was $13.54 on Friday, 3.72 lower than the previous and that compares with a $7.79 spread last year. The spread drops fast this time of the year; demand and prices for the Choice rib dropped $27 in one week already while demand for the round and chuck increases. Those cuts are less dependent on being Choice.  What’s more, the round and chuck rally rocked and rolled earlier than normal this year, helping to keep the cutout from dropping.


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