Market Highlights: Sideways Cattle Futures

FED CATTLE: Fed cattle trade was not well established at press. Asking prices were $126 to $127 on a live basis while bid prices were $121 to $123.  The 5-area weighted average prices thru Thursday were $124.02 live, up $0.90 from last week and $198.52 dressed, down $0.07 from a week ago. A year ago prices were $127.00 live and $201.33 dressed. The market has been kind to cattle feeders the past couple of months as finished cattle prices surged in December and then exceeded year ago levels in early January. However, some of the excitement was tempered as the stronger prices stalled and left finished cattle trading below year ago prices. The stall in prices would not be as big of a deal if cattle were not being negatively impacted by feeding conditions, but many of the cattle being harvested have gone through muddy pens and tough weather. Live cattle futures would suggest prices will continue to move sideways into April, but untethered optimism holds the hope that prices will increase a few more dollars heading towards grilling season. BEEF CUTOUT: At midday Friday, the Choice cutout was $215.71 down $1.00 from Thursday and up $1.64 from last Friday. The Select cutout was $211.04 down $0.49 from Thursday and down $2.14 from last Friday. The Choice Select spread was $4.67 compared to $0.89 a week ago. The World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report for February showed an expectation that 2018 U.S. beef production will total 26.864 billion pounds which is…

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