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CME: Increase in Livestock Futures Prices

28 February 2017

US - Last week livestock futures prices increased, based on averaging of the daily closes, according to the Steiner Consulting Group, DLR Division, Inc.

February Live Cattle futures gained $4.90 per cwt. to average $121.80 and the April contract increased by $2.10 week-over-week (averaging $115.71 per cwt.). The March Feeder Cattle futures market contract increased relatively modestly by $0.53 per cwt. week-over-week, averaging $124.13. For the April contract, Lean Hog futures increased compared to the prior week by $1.45 per cwt., averaging $68.03 per cwt., the highest since the week ending 21 February ($70.35 per cwt.).

Numbers in USDA’s monthly Cattle on Feed report by the National Agricultural Statistics Service (see the NASS report here) were as expected, that is very close to the average of market analyst pre-report estimates, which we summarized last week (available here). During January, both head marketed and placed into feedlots were well above a year ago. For the month, the surveyed feedlots (those with 1000 head or larger capacity) marketed 10.2 per cent more animals than a year ago and on a daily average basis the increase was 4.9 per cent. Compared to last year, fed animal marketing’s have been robust, cattle feeders being eager sellers and packers very willing buyers.

Cattle placed into feedlots during January were up 11.4 per cent year-over-year. One factor bolstering placements was the turn-around in profitability for fed steers and heifers sold during January. Estimated profit on closeouts was well in the black and the best in the last 28 months, according to monthly calculations by the Livestock Marketing Information Center, which assume feeding out a 750-pound steer.

In the monthly surveyed feedlots, there was a modest 0.7 per cent (73,000 head) more cattle on-feed than a year ago as of 1 February. NASS annually provides some additional structural data on the US industry in the February Cattle on Feed report. They reported (page 15) that the number of feedlots in the US with a capacity of 1,000 head or less actually increased some in 2016 compared to 2015 and that those feedlots marketed 7.1 per cent or 205,000 head more than in 2015. Feedlots with over 1000 head capacity (those surveyed monthly) accounted for 87.1 per cent of fed cattle marketed in 2016 compared to 87.2 per cent in 2015. Total capacity of US feedlots with over 1000 head capacity was 17.3 million head as of 1 January 2017, which was an increase of 200,000 animals compared to a year earlier.

Turning to the NASS monthly Cold Storage report (released last Thursday), as of the end of January, year-over-year total pork in US freezers declined 15.8 per cent, but did increase month-over-month.

Frozen pork belly stocks continued to erode and reached their lowest level since the end of September 2015. Frozen beef stocks increased slightly (0.6 per cent) year-over-year and also dropped compared to the prior month. For readers that maintain databases, note that in the Cold Storage 2016 Summary report (also released last Thursday), NASS revised boneless beef stocks significantly higher for several months in 2016. Total chicken frozen stock tonnage declined by 5.8 per cent year-over-year, while turkey jumped 17.1 per cent.

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