DTN Livestock Midday: Traders Seem to Sideline Themselves

    Cattle feeding. Photo: ©Debra L Ferguson

    With corn prices taking a considerable jump through Thursday’s trade and the bulk of the cash cattle market’s trade done, both the live cattle and feeder cattle contracts are trading lower into Friday afternoon.


    The vigorous pace that the livestock contracts have sought after this week has subsided Friday, and it appears traders are waiting until next week to continue to support the marketplace. The cattle contracts are struggling to find any support whatsoever, but the lean hog contracts are still rallying modestly into Friday afternoon. May corn is up 5 1/2 cents per bushel, and May soybean meal is down $3.10. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 81.91 points, and the NASDAQ is up 7.82 points.


    The cash cattle market has been mostly quiet thus far, but one packer has offered $196 in Nebraska, which is $6 higher than a week ago. The rally the cash cattle market has been able to accomplish this week is nothing short of spectacular. The cattle market has been one of the very last markets to recover from COVID-19’s disruption, and feedlots are again starting to get paid what their cattle are worth. Boxed beef prices also are continuing to rally, which favors feedlots’ position to ask more for their cattle, week in and week out. With Memorial Day the next major holiday, packers will be looking to push product out to retailers, as this year’s grilling season is expected to draw in a large magnitude of customers. Southern live deals have ranged from $118 to $122, which is roughly $4 higher than last week, and Northern dressed cattle have traded from $192 to $196 but mostly from $195 to $196, which is $5 to $6 stronger. April live cattle are up $0.02 at $124.22, June live cattle are down $1.67 at $123.40 and August live cattle are down $1.35 at $122.67.

    Boxed beef prices are higher: choice up $1.33 ($271.83) and select up $0.72 ($264.55) with a movement of 50 loads (31.06 loads of choice, 6.87 loads of select, 7.79 loads of trim and 4.31 loads of ground beef).


    Feeder cattle futures are still anxious to trade higher and are being positively charged by the action developing throughout the cash cattle market. But the healthy rally in Thursday morning’s corn market has sent the feeder contracts slightly lower. April feeders are down $0.30 at $147.32, May feeders are down $0.80 at $151.87 and August feeders are down $0.05 at $161.82. With cost of gains being a concern throughout the entire nation, feedlots are having to get creative with their feed rations and are looking for alternatives to use besides having to feed corn.


    The feeder cattle complex is having a rough Friday, as the market got rocked back on its heels by Thursday’s ginormous corn rally, and then again Friday, the corn market is continuing to rally modestly. With cost of gains sucking profitability out feedlots’ bottom lines quicker than most would like to admit, the feeder cattle complex needs to see sharply higher cash cattle prices in order to curb some of the pain from higher inputs. April feeders are down $2.12 at $145, May feeders are down $2.10 at $149.50, and August feeders are down $1.55 at $160.05.


    As traders start moving away from the soon-expiring April contract, the spot contract is trading slightly lower, while the rest of the complex is continuing to trade higher. April lean hogs are down $0.02 at $103.45, June lean hogs are up $0.45 at $109.15 and July lean hogs are up $0.20 at $107. The underlying tone of the market is still fully supportive as phenomenal demand and tightening supplies entice higher prices. With grilling season on the forefront of everyone’s minds, demand should continue to be excellent in the next month to come.

    The projected lean hog index for 4/7/2021 is up $0.47 at $100.94, and the actual index for 4/6/2021 is up $0.13 at $100.47. Hog prices are lower on the National Direct Morning Hog Report, down $0.17 with a weighted average of $98.65, ranging from $94 to $103 on 4,111 head and a five-day rolling average of $98.44. Pork cutouts total 230.62 loads with 202.45 loads of pork cuts and 28.17 loads of trim. Pork cutout values: up $4.74, $115.74.

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