DTN Livestock Midday: Tired, Uncertain Trade

Acting as if they are exhausted and not certain what to do, spot livestock contracts are trading relatively close to Friday’s position on Monday.

General Comments

Cattle contracts welcomed Monday with mildly stronger figures while lean hog contracts are bearing lower and giving no sign of morning higher — potentially having a rough morning because there’s still no news about a once-promising “phase one” trade agreement with China, and it’s hard accepting the fact that Christmas is only five weeks away so Christmas carols on the radio aren’t a road-rage worthy offense. Monday’s are tough.

December corn is down 2 1/4 cents per bushel and December soybean meal is down $5.50. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 9.32 points, and the NASDAQ is down 3.58 points.


Live cattle contracts read optimistically in deferred contracts while the spot December contract trades lower. December live cattle are down $0.35 at $118.72, February live cattle are up $0.15 at $125.12 and April live cattle are up $0.27 at $126.35. Monday’s relatively uneventful trade is another supporting sign that the nearby rally could be tapped out.

Last week from Monday’s open to Friday’s close, the December live cattle contract gave up 35 cents. Though it’s a loss, it’s not enough of a correction to stabilize the near-two-month rally. The next couple of days/weeks could feel like watching paint dry in the live cattle sector as the market stabilizes and we enter the holiday season. Cash cattle have yet to be bid or sold.

Boxed beef prices are mixed: choice down $1.81 ($238.99) and select up $2.02 ($215.35) with a boxed beef movement of 42 loads (31.72 loads of choice, 7.33 loads of select, 0 loads of trim and 3.22 loads of ground beef). Actual slaughter data for the week ended Nov. 2 showed that steer carcass weights lost 3 pounds from the previous report, now at 903 pounds, and heifer carcasses remained steady at 835 pounds.

Due to plant submission issues at USDA, summary reports will be delayed. We will get this information out as soon as it is made available.


Feeder cattle contracts were more eager than most, with trade mostly higher Monday morning. November feeders are steady at $146.25, January feeders are up $0.40 at $144.67 and March feeders are up $0.62 at $144.85. Last week, sale barns traded mostly steady to instances of higher prices.

As time ticks on and the calendar gets closer and closer to the holidays, feeder cattle prices could see a dip as both buyers and sellers are more interested in holiday dinner than getting calves in.


Lean hog contracts are unable to stabilize on last week’s firming cash market trade of $0.42 to $2.65 lower on the board. December lean hogs are down $0.40 at $62.80, February lean hogs are down $1.85 at $70.17 and April lean hogs are down $2.57 at $76.40.

Given that, last week, packers had a lofty kill and cash prices strengthened somewhat, it would be unlikely to see the slightly firmer undertone continue into much of this week as Thanksgiving is fast approaching and there still is no assurance of a trade agreement.

The projected lean hog index for 11/15/19 is down $0.27 at $59.24, and the actual index for 11/14/19 is up $0.01 at $59.51. Hog prices are lower on the National Direct Morning Hog Report, down $0.27 with a weighted average of $41.98, ranging from $40 to $46 on 7,887 head sold and a five-day rolling average of $42.43.

Pork cutouts only totaled 97.41 loads with 85.37 loads of pork cuts and 12.03 loads of trim. Pork cutout prices are up $1.88 at $90.01.

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