Fed Cattle Prices Hold Steady In Heavy Volume

   U.S. beef exports totaled 172 million pounds in February, down 1.4 percent from January and down 3.2 percent from February 2015. Less beef was shipped to Mexico, Canada and Philippines than last year.
   Beef imports equaled 232 million pounds, down 19 percent from January and down 9 percent year-over-year. The biggest decline was in Australian beef.
   During February beef exports equaled 9.1 percent of U.S. production and imports equaled 12.3 percent of production.
   There were 83,827 cattle imported from Mexico during February. That was up 59 percent from the month before, but down 18 percent from February 2015. Cattle imports from Canada totaled 67,839 head, up 32 percent from January, but down 26 percent compared to a year ago.
   Beef cutout values are down for the third consecutive week, but fed cattle prices held steady this week. This morning the choice boxed beef cutout value was $215.18/cwt, down $4.67 from the previous Friday and down $41.98 from a year ago. The select carcass cutout was $205.62/cwt, down $2.49 from last week and down $45.53 from a year ago. The choice-select price spread remained large at $9.56/cwt.
   Fed cattle prices held steady this week in heavy volume. Through Thursday, the 5-area average price for slaughter steers sold on a live weight basis was $133.82/cwt, up 70 cents from last week’s average, but down $29.31 from a year ago. The 5-area dressed steer price averaged $214.47/cwt, down 37 cents from the week before and down $49.54 from a year ago.
   This week’s cattle slaughter totaled 535,000 head, down 1.3 percent from last week, but up 6.2 percent from a year ago.
   The average steer dressed weight for the week ending on March 26 was 887 pounds, down 8 pounds from the week before, but up 13 pounds from a year ago. This was the 93rd consecutive week with steer weights above the year-ago level.
   Prices at the Oklahoma City Stockyards this week were steady to $3 higher on feeder cattle and steady on calves compared to last week. Prices for medium and large frame #1 steers by weight group were: 400-450# $228-$231, 450-500# $193-$210.50, 500-550# $190.25-$198.50, 550-600# $177-$192.50, 600-650# $169.50-$187, 650-700# $150-$180, 700-750# $158-$167.50, 750-800# $149-$161, 800-900# $137-$155 and 900-1000# $135.50-$147/cwt.
   Today, the April live cattle futures contract settled at $134.37/cwt today, up $1.40 for the week. June fed cattle settled at $124.02/cwt, up 45 cents from the previous week. The August contract ended the week at $119.57/cwt, unchanged from the previous Friday.
   Higher corn futures were a drag on feeder cattle futures this week. April feeder cattle ended the week at $155.90/cwt, down 30 cents from a week earlier. May futures lost $1.85 this week to close at $152.85/cwt. August feeder cattle settled at $153.92/cwt. ∆
   DR. RON PLAIN AND DR. SCOTT BROWN: Agricultural Economists, University of Missouri

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