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Weekly Cattle Outlook: International Trade Positive

26 April 2010
Ron Plain
Ron Plain

US - Weekly Cattle Outlook, 23rd April 2010, a weekly review of the US cattle industry, written by Glenn Grimes and Ron Plain.

International beef trade at the start of 2010 has been positive. During January and February, U.S. beef imports were down 23% and beef exports were up 24% compared to the same months of 2009. Increased exports and lower imports reduced the domestic beef supply by 164 million pounds. Beef imports from Canada were up 1.5%; but the other two largest suppliers, Australia and New Zealand, each shipped less beef to us in early 2010. Canada, Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong all increased their imports of U.S. beef by more than 20% during the first two months of 2010. Beef imports equaled 8.7% of production during the first two months of this year and beef exports equaled 7.7% of U.S. production.

Frozen stocks of beef at the end of March were down 3.5% from the month before and down 8.3% from a year earlier. Beef in cold storage on March 31 was the lowest for that date in 5 years.

The Japanese Ministry of Agriculture has confirmed a case of foot-and-mouth disease in a cattle herd in southern Japan. The disease outbreak is not expected to have a major market impact. People do not get foot-and-mouth disease. Japan has halted beef exports, which were very small before the FMD outbreak.

Fed cattle prices were steady to a bit higher this week with a number of head selling for more than $100/cwt on a live basis and above $160/cwt on a carcass weight basis. The 5-area daily weighted average price for slaughter steers sold through Thursday is not available at this writing due to technical difficulties.

On Friday morning, the choice beef carcass cutout value was $1.6827/pound, up 1.17 cents for the week, and 16.24 cents higher than last year. The select cutout was up 1.49 cents from the previous Friday to $1.6559 per pound.

This week’s cattle slaughter equaled 641,000 head, up 0.8% from the previous week and down 1.4% compared to the same week last year. Year-to-date beef production is down 1.0%.

Steer carcass weights averaged 814 pounds the week ending April 10. That was up 1 pound from the week before and 21 pounds lighter than a year ago. Steer weights have been below year-earlier levels for each of the last 20 weeks.

The April cattle on feed report said placements during March were up 2.7% while marketings were up 4.3%. The result is the lowest on feed number for April 1 since 2004, down 3.5% from last year.

Cash bids for feeder cattle this week were steady to $5 lower at most locations. The price ranges at Oklahoma City for medium and large frame steers were: 400-450# $132.50-134, 450-500# $136.75, 500-550# $131.50-$132, 550-600# $123-$131.75, 600-650# $118-$124, 650-700# $116.25-$119, 700-750# $114.25-$116.50, 750-800# $111-$113, and 800-1000# $101.75-$109.75/cwt.

The April live cattle futures contract ended the week at $99.22/cwt, up 47 cents for the week. June settled at $94.82, up 17 cents from the week before. August settled at $93.50/cwt up 53 cents, and the October live cattle contract ended the week at $95.87/cwt.

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