Maybe it was the fear and confusion caused by the novel coronavirus in China. Maybe it’s a normal market reaction to the expected increase in protein supplies this year. Whatever “it” is, the cash market for fed cattle reacted downward for the week ending Feb. 15.
Not in dramatic way, but cash has ticked down a dollar or two each of the past few weeks. However, beef demand remains positive and markets always—sometimes eventually but always—correct. Time will tell but the fundamentals in the cash market are strong.
Looking first at volume for the week ending Feb. 15, Five Area formula sales totaled 249,769 head, compared with about 249,000 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 56,433 head, compared with about 54,000 head the previous week.
Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 43,000 head again for the week. The packers have 178,000 head for February. National cash sales for the week included 23,485 head of 15- to 30-day delivery along with 11,000 from the previous week.
Now looking at prices, the Five Area weekly weighted average cash steer price for the week ending Feb. 15 was $118.90 per cwt, which was $2.15 lower. Last year for the same week, it was $124.96, which was steady with the week prior.
The weighted average cash dressed steer price was $190.27 per cwt, which was $2.91 lower.
The Five Area weighted average formula price was $194.88 per cwt, which was $2.50 lower.
The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest for the week ending Feb. 15 was 620,000 head, which compares with 608,000 head the same week last year.
The latest average national steer carcass weight for the week ending Feb. 1 was 897 pounds, which was 4 pounds lower than the previous week and slightly higher than the 885 pounds recorded the same week last year. Weights this week last year were 3 pounds lower than the previous week.
The Choice-Select spread was $2.38 on Friday, Feb. 14, compared with $6.23 the previous week and a $5.86 spread last year.