National Feeder & Stocker Summary

April 8, 2010 07:00 PM Editor

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WEEK ENDING 04/02/2010

RECEIPTS: Auctions   Direct  Video/Web  Total
This Wk   281,500    51,300   49,500    382,300   
Last Wk   234,200    64,400    9,800    308,400   
Last Yr   197,200    29,700   35,300    262,200

Compared to last week, feeder and stocker cattle sold steady to 5.00 higher, turning mostly 2.00-5.00 higher at midweek with many instances as much as 10.00 higher on lightweight calves and thin-fleshed 550-700 lb short yearlings in ideal condition for grazing. Feeder cattle prices have steadily gained ground every week so far this year and early-week markets showed the continuation of this trend, but Wednesday's activities throttled demand for feeders even more as the USDA's Prospective Plantings Report came out very bearish for grain markets. Corn and Soybean futures were sharply lower as 88.8 million prospective corn acres was up 2.3 million from last year and was the second largest since 2007's 93.5 million acres. Plus, quarterly corn stockpile figures were quoted at 7.694 billion bushels which was much higher than expectations. Wednesday's CME Feeder Cattle contracts responded with near 2.00 gains and mid-to-late week auction markets realized additional gains as buyers continued to push the envelope with their newly reaffirmed confidence. Stocker buyers didn't need bullish data to drive their demand as most were suffering from the annual springtime affliction know as "Green Grass Fever” which can cause almost involuntary twitching of buyers cards in an auction setting. Sunshine and warmer weather has now found most of the major grazing areas and even the high winds were a welcome sight as much of the Midwest and Northern Plains were in need of a blow drying. Conditions switched from challenging to ideal so fast that all the grass interests are hitting the market at once, including the small volume suburban dwellers with modest acreages that are a thorn in the side of order buyers trying to piece loads together. Fed cattle trading was mixed this past week as the premium that southern feedyards were enjoying over the northern feedlots switched with Texas and Kansas selling 1.00 lower at 96.00 and Nebraska trading 1.50 higher from 96.00-97.50 and 4.00-5.00 higher dressed from 156.00-157.00. Showlists have tightened in the north as calf- feds are still weeks from being finished following poor performance during the harsh winter, as opposed to last year when these cattle were ripe in late March under outstanding performance. Also, northwestern packing plants are short of market- ready cattle and pulling numbers in their direction with all of Colorado's cattle selling at the top of the market this week. Easter does not typically bring about an increase in beef consumption, but the end of Lent and the onset of warmer temperatures and additional daylight in the evening should cause folks to dust off their BBQ grill. Sharp gains in boxed beef cut-out values have been impressive but the week ending March 26th had the lightest volume reported for a non-holiday week since Mandatory Price Reporting began in April 2001. However, tighter supplies and improved export demand is expected hold prices at a respectable level – and the bulls continue to dominate for beef products at every stage of production. This week's reported auction volume included 47 percent over 600 lbs and 48 percent heifers.

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