DTN Livestock Midday: Contracts Heading South

    Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service photo by Adam Russell

    Wednesday hasn’t been a friendly day for the livestock contracts as the entire complex trades fully lower.


    The higher-and-lower, choppy, volatile trade that’s developed this past week has been a whirlwind for the livestock contracts. Looking at the markets through a technical perspective, there’s plenty of pressure as traders are apprehensive. But fundamentally, demand is still strong. May corn is up 18 3/4 cents per bushel and July soybean meal is up $0.30. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 206.40 points and NASDAQ is up 92.75 points.


    A shake up in the livestock contracts wasn’t what feedlots were hoping for; but nevertheless, traders have backed away from the complex and are letting the market fall lower. April live cattle are down $0.75 at $119.82, June live cattle are down $1.77 at $117.42 and August live cattle are down $1.25 at $118.15. There’s been a few (a very slim few) cattle trade in the South for $120, and bids are being offered in the North at $192. The $120 trade is steady to $1.00 lower than last week’s business. Asking prices in the South are pinned at $122 to $125 and in the North cattle are priced at $205-plus. There is no doubt feedlots are concerned with how the board is trading, but that’s only one sector of the market — don’t forget about the strength in boxed beef prices and the vigorous kill speed at which this week is running. If feedlots can let the week’s early bids pass them by there is a chance at least steady trade could be attained.

    The Fed Cattle Exchange Auction listed 4,972 head, of which 1,517 actually sold at $120 and $124; 2,252 head were listed as unsold, as they did not meet the reserve price that ranged from $120 to $125; and 1,203 head in Nebraska were scratched from the auction. Opening prices ranged from $118.50 to $125, high bids ranged from $119 to $124. The state-by-state breakdown looks like this: Kansas 884 total head, with 58 head sold at $120, 826 head unsold; Nebraska 2,080 total head, with 457 head sold at $124, 420 head unsold, and 1,203 head scratched from auction; Texas 2,008 total head, with 1,002 head sold at $120, 1,006 head unsold.

    Boxed beef prices are higher: choice up $1.84 ($280.10) and select up $2.06 ($272.53) with a movement of 83 loads (57.62 loads of choice, 5.52 loads of select, 6.14 loads of trim and 13.98 loads of ground beef).


    Tuesday’s flutter of support quickly dissipated Wednesday morning as the corn market is posting another successful rally where nearby contracts are gaining $0.10 to $0.16 per bushel and the May and July contracts are both trading above $6.00. These high corn prices, coupled with the fact that hay and grass are both trending higher as well, really put feedlots in a pinch as their inputs are increasing and they’ve yet to see a higher end dollar for fat cattle. April feeders are down $1.90 at $135.67, May feeders are down $2.60 at $140.15 and August feeders are down $1.80 at $152.77. Until the feeder cattle complex can see some steady trade throughout the corn market and some gains made throughout the live cattle complex — trade could continue to be brutal.


    Lean hog futures are fighting some technical pressure, but the fundamental support is still extraordinary. June lean hogs are down $1.72 at $104.62, July lean hogs are down $1.15 at $103.10 and August lean hogs are down $0.80 at $99.45. After two days of rallying vigorously, traders could be hesitant in supporting the market too much more before seeing Thursday’s export report. Given the level hog prices have climbed to, it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see a weaker export report again. A weaker export report isn’t necessarily a bad thing right now for the U.S. market as domestic consumers are thoroughly supporting the hog market and with supplies as tight as they are it’s hard for the market to keep up with both domestic and international demand.

    The projected two-day CME Lean Hog Index for 4/20/2021 is up $0.70 at $105.12, and the actual index for 4/19/2021 is up $0.65 at $104.42. Hog prices are higher on the National Direct Morning Hog Report, up $1.09 with a weighted average of $104.97, ranging from $102.00 to $110.50 on 6,439 head and a five-day rolling average of $103.66. Pork cutouts total 184.39 loads with 158.88 loads of pork cuts and 25.51 loads of trim. Pork cutout values: up $2.76, $117.79.

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