Packers actively sought cattle this week, driving prices $2 to $4 per cwt. higher in the south. Most trades occurred at $121 to $122. Fed cattle in the north was lightly tested as significant many cattle are carrying significant amounts of mud from recent storms. The market’s near-term support is firm.
Feeder steers and heifers sold steady to $4 per cwt. higher in the north and south plains, while cattle in the southeast sold $3 to $6 higher. Ranchers in the norther plains and Midwest struggled with a massive late-season blizzard.
Boxed beef prices improved late-week, yet ended lower compared to the previous Friday. Choice cutout values were $211.98 per cwt., 63 cents lower than last week. Select cutout closed at $200.13 per cwt., 22 cents higher than the previous week. The Choice/Selct spread was $11.85.
Friday’s cattle on feed report revealed another large year-over-year gain, with April 1 numbers 7% higher than in 2017. Placements in March were estimated at 91% of year-ago, and marketings in March at 96% of the year-ago totals. Analysts called the report neutral for near-term markets.