Cattle and beef prices grind mostly lower

Despite a mid-week lull in long-falling cattle futures, markets continued under bearish pressure from growing supplies and uncertainty surrounding agricultural trade with China (see “Proposed tariffs weigh on markets” below).

Although there were some late-week instances of steady to $5 per cwt  higher, steers and heifers traded primarily steady to $5 lower with instances of $10 lower, according to the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). Analysts there explain both low prices and a strong cold front in the Southern and Northern Plains hampered receipts.

Feeder Cattle futures closed an average of $1.48 higher week to week on Friday (March 29-April 6). That was after closing an average of $1.69 lower to end the week.

“Feeder cattle are caught in a bottleneck of lower fed cattle prices, increasing supplies of fed cattle, sharply lower cattle futures and record supplies of competing meats,” AMS analysts say. “As the entire livestock complex struggles with these issues, demand and exports are very important to keep product moving and prices stable.”

Fed cattle lose more ground

Friday’s plunge in futures prices dashed hopes of kick starting the week’s sluggish and lower negotiated cash fed cattle trade.

Live sales for the week were $2-$3 lower in the Southern Plains at $117-$118 per cwt. Prices were as much as $6 lower in Nebraska at $114 earlier in the week, although there were a few trades there on Friday at $118. Dressed sales were $2-$7 lower at $184-$188.

After $1.52 and 25 cents lower in the front two contracts, Live Cattle futures closed an average of 80 cents higher week to week on Friday.

Source: BEEF