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Cattle Outlook: New Heights

July 28, 2014
BT Beef Grocery 6
  

The beef market continues to reach new heights.
By: Ron Plain and Scott Brown, University of Missouri

Fed cattle prices set new records this week on heavy volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $162.86/cwt, up $6.84 from last week's average, up $43.26 from a year ago, and up $5.46 from the old record set during the week ending on July 4, 2014. The 5 area average dressed price for steers was also a new record at $256.33/cwt, up $9.76 from a week earlier and up $63.88 from the same week last year.

Choice beef prices set a new record in June for the fifth consecutive month. Retail prices of choice beef averaged $5.938/pound in grocery stores during June. That was 2.5 cents higher than the month before and 66.4 cents higher than a year ago. The average price for all fresh beef at retail during June was $5.512 per pound, which was also a record.

There were 357.8 million pounds of beef in cold storage on the last day of June. That was 5.3% less than a month earlier and 25.7% less than a year ago. Stocks of frozen beef were down for the seventh consecutive month. The 357.8 million pounds is the lowest amount for any month since June 2005.

Choice boxed beef cutout values set new record highs on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday this week. The select cutout set new records on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. This morning, the boxed beef cutout value for choice carcasses was $257.30/cwt, up $8.98 from last Friday, up $70.29 from a year ago and $1.74 above the old record of set on Thursday. The select cutout was a record $254.64/cwt on today's morning report, up $12.37 from last week, up $71.76 from a year earlier and $1.80 above yesterday's record.

Cattle slaughter totaled 571 thousand head this week. That was down 1.0% from the week before and down 10.8% from the same week last year. The average dressed weight for steers slaughtered the week ending July 12 was 865 pounds, up 4 pounds from the week before and 3 pounds heavier than the same week last year.

Feeder cattle prices at this week's Oklahoma City auction were $3 lower to $3 higher than the week before. This week's prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight were: 400-450# $272, 450-500# $254-$267, 500-550# $251-$266, 550-600# $239-$250, 600-650# $221-$240, 650-700# $222-$235, 700-750# $211-$225.50, 750-800# $211-$219, 800-900# $200.50-$215.25, and 900-1000# $190-$199/cwt.

The August live cattle futures contract closed at $159.10/cwt today, up $7.48 from last week's close. October fed cattle settled at $159.80/cwt, up $5.48 for the week. The December contract ended the week at $158.77/cwt. February settled at $156.85/cwt.

The August feeder cattle contract gained $6.60 this week to end at $218.25/cwt. September feeders settled at $219.25/cwt today, up $6.95 from the previous Friday.

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