Packers Dig In Their Heels, Feeder Cattle Uneven

Every cowboy from Ames to Amarillo seems convinced the cattle market is headed higher. Maybe that’s why packers dug in their heels and refused offers of cattle priced $2 to $4 over last week. Cash cattle prices were at a standoff Friday afternoon, with a light trade Friday morning at $124.55, about half-a-dollar higher. Dressed sales in Nebraska were reported at $200, or $2 per cwt. higher than last week. Market reporting services all said the market tone was higher, but few active live trades to support those ideas. Futures markets, however, think cash cattle are cheap. February Live cattle closed Friday at $127.37, more than $1 higher. Despite packer resistance, the market has been on an upswing. Since last summer’s low of $107, cash fed cattle prices have been steady or higher in 21 of 23 weeks. At auction, feeder steers and heifers sold uneven, from steady to $2 lower in the North Central, to steady to $4 higher in the Southeast and South Central. Some southern auctions reported spot sales as much as $10 per cwt. higher on good grazing cattle. Choice boxed beef cutout values were $1.09 per cwt. higher for the week at $215.35. Select closed Friday at $211.17 per cwt., down $1.98 for the week. The Choice-Select spread was $4.18. Related content: Feeding, Packer Margins Exceed Triple Digits

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