Packer margins, the source of discussion for some time now, have shrunk to a more historical level, causing packers to back off just a bit. But beef demand remains strong and packers need to keep their coolers full, so their leverage has slipped just a little.
Looking at volume, the Five Area formula sales volume for the week ending January 11 totaled 242,360 head, compared to about 229,000 the previous week. The Five Area total cash steer and heifer volume was 58,225 head, compared with about 71,000 head the previous week.
Nationally reported forward contract cattle harvest was about 44,000 head for the week. The packers have 195,000 head for January. National cash sales included 13,495 head of 15- to 30-day delivery and 22,000 head from the previous week.
Now looking at prices, the Five Area weekly weighted average cash steer price for the week ending January 11 was $124.47 per cwt, 26 cents higher than the prior week. The same week last year it was $123.71, $1 higher than the previous week.
The weighted average cash dressed steer price was $199.74 per cwt, which was $1.14 higher.
The Five Area weighted average formula price was $197.28 per cwt, $2.89 higher.
The estimated weekly total federally inspected cattle harvest was 640,000 head, which compares with 631,000 head the same week last year.
The latest average national steer carcass weight for the week ending December 28 was 905 pounds, 1 pound higher than the previous week. That compares with 896 pounds the same week last year, which was 5 pounds higher than the week before.
The Choice-Select spread was $3.49 on Friday, Jan. 10, compared with $3.10 the previous week and a $6.19 spread last year.