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The Cattle Range Weekly Market Summary provides market data for the informed cattleman. Current industry news & commentary as well as a comprehensive comparison of the past week's prices from around the country in comparison to the previous week, month, 6 months ago, 1 year ago, & 5 year average.  The data is compiled from a variety of sources and is organized to provide insight in determining market movement and trends.
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The "Nord Fork"

Replaces Flankers at Branding

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SAMPLE... Market Summary for the week ending April 10th:
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  • Bullish: Assuming stable economies and no geo-political disasters, the fundamentals of the cattle/beef sectors remain positive.
  • Bearish: Markets, foreign and domestic, exhibit high levels of uncertainty and lack of confidence, resulting in major spikes, up & down, even on unremarkable news.
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The Cattle Range 10-Day Market Trend:
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An indicator of overall cattle/beef market strength. The angle indicates direction & velocity of the trend.
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The Trendline is based on daily market factors for the last 10 days.
Each daily factor is the aggregate weighted total of the Gain/(Loss) for 10 major market indicators compared to the previous trading day.
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National Feeder & Stocker Cattle Weekly Summary:
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RECEIPTS:   Auctions   Direct   Video/Internet   Total
This Week     186,900     53,100        21,300        261,300 
Last Week     235,500     70,200        35,600        341,300 
Last Year       188,600     57,900        55,200        301,700
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Compared to last week, feeder cattle and calves sold unevenly steady to 3.00 higher early in the week, instances 5.00 higher; then turning unevenly steady the rest of the week.  Some pressure was noted on yearling heifers and heifer calves weighing 500-850 lbs through the North and South Central Regions in some cases selling 3.00-5.00 lower.  Softer fall-born new crop calves are making their way to market and in some cases widening the price spread against the rugged old croppers.  Feeders had good support from the cash cattle market to start the week as the fed cattle market last week traded mostly at 167.00-169.00 with a few at 170.00. 

Focus returned back to the Live and Feeder cattle markets following the long Easter weekend to see if feeders and the fed cattle markets have the ability to move even higher for the rest of the month.  Tight fed cattle supplies continue to help prices along with encouraging boxed beef prices.  Weekly slaughter kills continue to be historically low with last week’s harvest at 525,000 head with another low for this week estimated at 502,000.   With boxed beef prices rising, packers with improving margins and increased seasonal retail beef movement, this should result in larger slaughter levels going forward into the spring.  Meat trade following the Easter Holiday is starting to focus on the potential demand as increased support for cutouts has moved significantly higher as spring demand is awakening.  After a long cold winter there is hopefully a lot of pent up demand for food services whether it be restaurant trade or the much anticipated grilling season. 

Choice product closed on Friday 1.88 lower at 256.51, compared to last Friday’s close at 255.57.  CME feeder cattle futures rallied on Monday then suffered an ugly reversal as the Board continued to suffer losses into midweek, then on Friday closed with sharp losses of 3.50-4.00; as overhead resistance remains tough.  The velocity of these sell-offs should not be a surprise, but they do leave an impression.  It seems when markets look bleak they have the ability to rally then fall even as fundamentals look strong.  Cattlemen now have their hopes tied to lots of rain and sunshine for the long-term as feeder and stocker cattle demand should start to slacken as grazers fully stock their pastures or run out of money.  Farmers will soon be in full planting mode as soon as weather allows corn planting to move forward with another abundant corn crop forecasted by analysts.  Auction volume included 54 percent over 600 lbs and 40 percent heifers.

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Stocker Steers:
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Feeder Steers:
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Five Year Moving Average - Stocker Steers, Feeder Steers, & Slaughter Steers:
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Cattle Futures:  Bearish cash expectations sent cattle futures tumbling Friday. Despite recent spot market gains, the cattle/beef industry clearly expects a decisive seasonal downturn in the near future. Thus, talk of a potential cash market drop later in the day sparked strong CME selling. On the other hand, big discounts already built into CME futures could limit losses. June cattle futures plunged 2.77 cents to 148.80 cents/pound in late Friday action, while August cattle dove 2.12 to 146.55 cents/pound. Meanwhile, May feeder cattle futures crashed 3.97 cents to 209.72 cents/pound, and August feeders plummeted 3.57 to 211.45.
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Selected Auction Reports:
"Click" on individual auction links for complete report
Oklahoma National Stockyards - Oklahoma City OK
Actual Receipts: 5769   Last Monday: 9,501   Year Ago Monday: 5,283
Compared to last week: Feeder steers and heifers mostly steady to 3.00 higher, with the exception of 600-700 lb steers which traded weak on a light test.  Steer and heifer calves steady to 2.00 higher, as demand for thin fleshed calves suitable for grazing remains very good.

El Reno Cattle Narrative - El Reno OK
Receipts:  5303    Last Week:  6770    Year Ago:  3674
Compared to last week:  Feeder steers sold steady to 3.00 higher.  Feeder heifers traded mostly steady with exception of cattle over 800lbs trading 2.00 to 4.00 lower.  Steer and heifer calves sold with a weak undertone in a light test.

Joplin Regional Stockyards Feeder Cattle Wtd Avg - Carthage MO
Receipts:  3790    Week Ago:  5823    Year Ago:  5473
Compared to last week, steer and heifer calves and yearlings steady.

Cattleman's Livestock Auction - Dalhart, TX
Cattle and Calves: 2058          Week ago: 1675          Year Ago:
Compared to week ago:  Feeder steers and heifers firm except heifers under 600 lbs and steers over 800 lbs 1.00-2.00 higher.  Slaughter cows and bulls steady.

Tulia Livestock Auction - Tulia TX
Receipts:  3127    Last Week:  2728    Year Ago:  2211
Compared to last week:  Feeder steers sold steady to 3.00 higher.  Heifers sold mostly steady.

Russell Wtd Avg Feeder Cattle Auction - Russell IA
Receipts:  4569   2 weeks ago:  3801
Compared to the sale 2 weeks ago: Feeder strs under 550 lbs.mostly 6.00-8.00 lower, 600-700 lbs. mostly 8.00-12.00 higher,feeder strs over 700 lbs. mostly 3.00-5.00 higher and feederhfrs under 650 lbs. mostly 5.00-10.00 lower, over 650 lbs. mostly 4.00-10.00 higher.

Tri-State Livestock Auction Market - McCook NE
Receipts:  1800    Last Week:  1500    Year Ago:  1200
Compared to last week. Steers over 700 lbs were 2.00 – 5.00 lower and heifers over 700 lbs were 1.00 – 4.00 higher.

Huss Platte Valley Auction - Kearney NE
Cattle Receipts:  4938     Two weeks ago: 3150     Last year: 3800
Compared to two weeks ago, steers sold 6.00 to 10.00 higher and heifers sold 5.00 to 7.00 higher.

Clovis Livestock Auction - Clovis NM
Receipts:  1883                Week Ago:  1866                  Year Ago:  1338
Compared to last week:  Feeder steers and heifers unevenly steady.  Slaughter cows and bulls steady to weak on limited comparable sales.

Toppenish, WA Livestock Auction - Toppenish WA
Receipts:  2150    Last Week:  1600    Year Ago:  1800
Compared to last Thursday at the same market, stocker and feeder cattle mixed, feeder steers steady to 15.00 lower, heifers firm to 6.00 higher. Trade active with very good demand especially from locals looking for small lots of stockers to fill pastures. Slaughter cows 1.00-4.00 higher. Slaughter bulls steady.

Farmers & Ranchers Livestock Commission Co. - Salina KS
Receipts:  4110    Last Week:  4159    Year Ago:  4775
Compared to last week: Steers 750-900 lbs steady to 6.00 higher; 900-1050 lbs 1.00-4.00 lower, 750 lbs and under steady undertone in a limited supply. Heifers 700-800 lbs 1.00-5.00 lower, 800-950 lbs steady to 3.00 higher, 700 lbs and under lower undertone in a limited supply.

Sioux Falls Regional Livestock wtd Avg Report - Worthing SD
Receipts:  3175    Last Week:  3465    Year Ago:  2908
Compared to last week:  Feeder steers and heifers sold steady to 4.00 higher.  Good to very good demand for today's offeringof long-time weaned calves and backgrounded cattle.  Flesh conditionwas moderate overall, with few packaged in moderate plus flesh.  Slaughter cows sold 3.00 to 4.00 lower in a very light test compared to Wednesday, bulls steady.

Mitchell Livestock Wtd Avg Report - Mitchell SD
Receipts:  4593    Last Week:  4820    Year Ago:  4975
Compared to last week:  Feeder steers under 700 lbs lightly tested,700-900 lbs mostly steady, over 900 lbs 2.00 to 5.00 higher.  Feederheifers under 700 lbs lightly tested, 700-750 lbs steady to firm, 750-800 lbs 2.00 to 4.00 higher in a narrow comparison, 800-950 lbssteady to 2.00 higher.

Weekly Auction Summaries:
Tennessee Weekly Auction Summary
Tennessee Weekly Auction Summary
Receipts on 9 TN Auctions 5,973, 10 Last Week 8,500, 12 Last Year 7,400
Compared to last week, slaughter cows steady to 3.00 higher. Slaughter bulls steady. Steers/bulls unevenly steady. Heifers steady to 3.00 higher.

Mississippi Weekly Livestock Summary
Cattle Receipts:    4,929       Last Week:      6,357       Last Year:    4,259
Compared to last week, slaughter cows and bulls sold steady. Feeder steers sold 5.00 to 10.00 lower and heifers sold steady.

Alabama Auctions Weekly Summary
Total estimated receipts this week 9,000, last week 9,357 and 7,803 last year.
Compared to one week ago: Slaughter cows and bulls sold 1.00 to 2.00 lower. Replacement cows and pairs sold mostly steady. All feeder classes sold mostly steady to 2.00 higher.

Georgia Cattle Auctions Weekly Review
Cattle receipts at 25 markets 8,136 compared to 8,942 last week and 7,611 year ago.
Compared to one week earlier, slaughter cows and bullsmostly steady, feeder steers, bulls and heifers steady to 2.00 lower, feeder calves unevenly steady to 3.00 lower, replacement cows mostly steady.

Colorado Auction Feeder Cattle Summary
Receipts:  0     Last Week:  3,435     Last Year:  7,225
Compared to last week: No feeder steers or heifers reported.

Direct Sales of Feeder & Stocker Cattle:
"Click" on individual links for complete report
AZ-CA-NV Weekly Feeder Cattle Review (Fri)
Confirmed: 7250 
Compared to last week, contracts for August Holstein calves mostly steady.

Colorado Direct Feeder Cattle Report (Fri)
Receipts:  0     Last Week:  3,435     Last Year:  7,225
Compared to last week: No feeder steers or heifers reported. 

Eastern Cornbelt Direct Feeder Cattle Summary (Fri)
Reported sales this week: 0   Last Week: 248    Last year: 299
Compared to last week:  No sales established for feeder steers and heifers. 

Georgia Direct Cattle Summary (Fri)
Confirmed sales on 1,308 head.

Kansas Direct Feeder Cattle Summary (Fri)
Receipts:  3738    Last Week:  4820    Year Ago: 8176 
Compared with last week: Feeder steers and heifers there were not enough comparable sales for an accurate test but a higher undertone noted. 

Montana Direct Feeder Cattle Wtd Avg (Fri)
Receipts:  0     Last Week: 80     Year Ago:  180
Compared to last week:  No feeder steers or heifer reported.

New Mexico Feeder Cattle Report (Mon)
Receipts:  1100    Last Week:  6700    Year Ago:  600
Compared to last week:  Feeder steers and heifers were mostly steady.

Northwest Wtd Avg Direct Feeder Cattle Report (Fri)
Receipts:  3500    Last Week:  7550    Year Ago:  800
Compared to last Friday, feeder cattle mixed, steers 4.00-5.00 higher, heifers weak in a light test.

Oklahoma Direct Feeder Cattle (Fri)
Receipts:  4582    Last Week:  5823    Last Year:  9318
Compared to last week:  Feeder steers sold steady to 3.00 higher.  Feeder heifers not well tested for current FOB trades. 

South Dakota Direct Feeder Cattle Summary (Fri)
Receipts: 0    Last Week:  736     Last Year:  0 
Compared to last week:  No feeder steers or heifers reported.

Texas Direct Feeder Cattle (Fri)
Confirmed:  31,400     Last Week: 30,400      Last Year: 30,700
Compared to last week current FOB feeder steers and heifers were steady to 3.00 higher.

WY, Western NE & Western Dakotas Direct Feeder Cattle Wtd Avg (Fri)
Receipts:  1447    Week Ago:  2825   Year Ago:  2135
Compared to last week, 700 lbs steers sold 6.00 lower and heifers over 750 lbs sold 3.00 lower all on a thin test.

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Representative Sales of Cow & Pairs:
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  • Woodward, OK
    • Pairs:  Medium and Large  2-7 yrs 900-1175 lbs w/100-225 lb calves 2975.00-3225.00.   Medium and large 1-2  2-7 yrs 750-1250 lbs w/baby to 250 lb calves 2150.00-2550.00.  Medium and Large 2  6-10 yrs 1000-1250 lbs w/100-200 lb calves 1900.00-2150.00.
  • El Reno, OK
    • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2  2-7 yrs 1025-1300 lbs 5-8 months 2200.00-2650.00.  Medium and Large 2  2-10 yrs 900-1350 lbs 3-8 months 1550.00-2000.00. 
    • Pairs:  Medium and large 1  2-8 yrs 1025-1300 lbs w/75-400 lb calves 3000.00-3450.00.  Medium and Large 1-2  3-8 yrs 1000-1500 lbs w/75-200 lb calves 2650.00-2800.00, 9-10 yrs 1000-1125 lbs w/150-200 lb calves 2000.00-2100.00.
  • Oklahoma City, OK
    • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 2  2-8 yrs 950-1300 lbs 2-8 months 1500.00-2000.00, few 4-8 yrs 1150-1325 lbs 2-7 months 2110.00-2300.00, 10 yrs 1175-1225 lbs 3-6 months 1375.00-1500.00. 
    • Pairs:  Medium and Large 1-2  5-6 yrs 1300-1350 lbs w/75-200 lb calves 3000.00-3300.00, 2-6 yrs 900-1400 lbs w/75-125 lb calves 2175.00-2700.00, 8-10 yrs 1050-1300 lbs w/50-125 lb calves 1725.00-2350.00.
  • Joplin, MO
    • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2  2-7 yrs 1075-1350 lbs 2nd-3rd stage 1800.00-2450.00, 1st stage 1095-1320 lbs 1900.00-2350.00; short and solid mouth to aged 2nd and 3rd stage 1285-1340 lbs 1500.00-1700.00.  Large 1-2  4-7 yrs 2nd and 3rd stage 1450-1760 lbs 1825.00-2500.00.  Medium and Large 2  3 yrs to short and solid mouth 2nd and 3rd stage 1000-1085 lbs 1200.00-1600.00.  Medium 1-2  3-6 yrs 2nd and 3rd stage 985-1045 lbs 1550.00-1850.00; broken mouth 2nd and 3rd stage 1000-1050 lbs 1300.00-1500.00. 
    • Pairs:  Medium and Large 1-2  3 yrs to short and solid mouth 1070-1185 lb cows w/babies to 145 lb calves 2300.00-2400.00.  Medium Large 1-2  2-5 yrs 845-850 lbs w/baby calves 1700.00-2150.00.  Medium and Large 2  850-1000 lbs w/babies to 135 lb calves 2100.00-2400.00. 
  • West Plains, MO
    • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2  2-6 yrs 950-1300 lbs 2nd-3rd stage 1950.00-2400.00; 7 yrs to short-solid mouth 1110-1420 lbs 2nd-3rd stage 1800.00-2100.00.  Medium and Large 2  2-7 yrs 975-1390 lbs 1st-3rd stage 1675.00-1900.00; Short-solid to broken mouth 1040-1375 lbs 2nd-3rd stage 1500.00-1850.00. 
    • Pairs:  Medium and Large 1-2  2-7 yrs 825-1225 lbs w/100-250 lbs 2100.00-2700.00, pkg 2 yrs 1000 lbs heifers w/200 lb calves 2900.00; 7 yrs to broken mouth 1070-1180 lbs w/150-200 lb calves 1900.00-2300.00, pkg short-solid mouth 1245 lbs w/250 lb calves 2500.00.  Medium and Large 2   2-7 yrs 930-1065 lbs w/100-250 lb calves 1800.00-2400.00, Short-solid to broken mouth 895-1130 lbs w/75-150 lb calves 1500.00-1800.00. 
  • Springfield, MO
    • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2  2-7 yrs 950-1350 lbs 2nd-3rd stage 1750.00-2125.00, few dispersals 2300.00-2650.00, 1st stage 915-1315 lbs 1625.00-1875.00, pkg. 3-4 yrs 840 lbs dispersal 2125.00; short and solid mouth to aged 2nd and 3rd stage 1075-1275 lbs 1300.00-1700.00.  Large 1-2  4 yrs to short and solid mouth 2nd and 3rd stage 1390-1485 lbs 1700.00-1850.00.  Medium and Large 2  6 yrs 2nd and 3rd stage 1020-1255 lbs 1500.00-1775.00.  Medium 1-2  5 yrs to short and solid mouth 2nd and 3rd stage 865-1050 lbs 1400.00-1800.00, 1st stage 825-845 lbs 1300.00-1500.00; short and solid mouth to aged 2nd stage 885-955 lbs 1200.00-1225.00. 
    • Pairs:  Medium and Large 1-2  2-4 yrs 825-930 lbs w/130-170 lb calves 2700.00-2960.00; 7 yrs to short and solid mouth 1085-1220 lbs w/babies to 310 lb calves 1950.00-2275.00.  Medium 1-2  2-4 yrs 720-810 lbs w/babies to 180 lb calves 2435.00-2675.00. 
  • Arkansas
    • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2  2-7 yrs 850-1250 lbs 2nd-3rd stage 171.00-181.00 cwt, 1875.00-1975.00; first stage/open 135.00-145.00 cwt, 7-10 yrs 2nd-3rd stage 135.00-145.00 cwt, 1400.00-1500.00. 
    • Pairs:  Medium and Large 1-2  3-7 yrs 800-1200 lbs w/100-200 lb calves 2300.00-2400.00, few to 3600.00; w/200-300 lb calves 2400.00-2500.00; 7-10 yrs w/100-200 lb calves 1850.00-1950.00. 
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Bred Cows & Heifers in 2nd & 3rd Stages of Pregnancy:
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Canadian Cattle:
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Alberta Beef Producers:  Alberta direct cattle sales so far this week have seen light trade develop with sales steady to 4.00 higher than the previous week. Tentatively cash to futures basis levels did strengthen this week and remain stronger than the five year average. Both local and US packer interest in the cash market has been supportive this week.
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Canadian Weekly Cattle Report:

Fed steers at record

  • Canadian fed steers set a new record with a weighted average of $199.11, up $1.74 from the previous week.
  • There were too few heifers to establish a price.
  • Good Canadian and American demand supported the market.
  • These record prices are well above current feedlot break-evens in Canada, but the same cannot be said in the United States, where feedlots face negative feeding margins.
  • Sales to the U.S. were generally steady to a slight premium over local sales.
  • Trade was too light to establish U.S. prices. Dressed bids of US$258-$263 were reported in the north, while live bids of $163 surfaced in the south.
  • The Alberta cash-to-futures basis closed the week at -$5.42, similar to levels seen in 2008 and 2010.
  • Fed exports over the past three weeks have ranged 6,300-7,400 head, well down from same period last year when volumes ranged 10,000-11,500 head.
  • Many producers believe it could be the end of April or beginning of May before fed calves hit the market.
  • Market-ready supplies remain manageable.
  • Chicago June live cattle futures were trading above the 100-day moving average, but there was resistance at US$153.50 per hundredweight.
  • A move to $155-$156 is likely if the market breaks through that resistance, and a revisit to the January high near $158 would be the next test.
Cows strong
  • Slaughter cows traded unevenly steady with D1,2 prices up C92 cents per cwt. while D3s slipped.
  • D1, D2 cows ranged $135-$155 to average $145.67 while D3s ranged $117-$140 to average $128.17.
  • Rail cow bids held mostly steady at $277-$282 per cwt. delivered.
  • Slaughter bull prices rallied to a new record average of $162.07.
  • Weekly western Canadian non-fed slaughter for the week ending March 28 slipped 17 percent to 4,068 head.
  • Non-fed exports to March 21were steady at 4,868 head.
  • Cow prices typically plateau in the middle of April, but increased supplies next week could hold the market steady.
  • Seasonal demand for hamburger will be supportive.
Heavier feeders rise
  • Feeder demand is outpacing supply, and fewer light calves are being offered.
  • With small lots of varied quality, light calf prices plummeted more than C$7.50 per cwt. lower.
  • Buyers adapted and have turned to heavier feeders.
  • Good demand for 500-700 pound feeders pushed prices $2-$4 higher.
  • Grass buyers bought feeders up to 800 lb., lifting the steer 700-800 lb. class by $6.
  • Steers heavier than 800 lb. rose $1 while heifers were mixed with a substantial premium for replacement quality animals.
  • The Alberta auction volume fell 24 percent to 21,873 head.
  • Weekly feeder exports to March 21 rose 16 percent to 18,959 head, the most since fall 2008.
  • Prices are expected to be well supported with increased feedlot buying interest from both sides of the border.
US beef up
  • Beef cut-out values strengthened, but packers continued to fight negative margins.
  • Weekly beef cow slaughter volumes during March ranged from 41,500 to 42,800 head, the smallest seen this year.
U.S. beef higher
  • US boxed beef prices closed the week higher with Choice at US$255.94 and Select at US$250.46
  • Buyer interest is expected to im-prove in April as people fire up their barbecues.
  • Weekly Canadian cut-out values to March 21 saw AAA fall 69 cents to $306.51 while AA climbed $2.24 to $305.71. The cutouts are 23-25 percent above year ago levels, and the AAA-Choice spread at -$6.60 has improved considerably from last year’s -$21.59.
This cattle market information is selected from the weekly report from CanFax, a division of the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association.
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Canadian Cattle Prices:
Prices have been converted to U.S. $/CWT.  Grades changed to approximate U.S. equivalents
Exchange Rate: Canadian dollar equivalent to $0.7959 U.S. dollars
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Prices for the week ending April 3rd:
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April is the Cruelest Month:
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This past year has certainly confounded analysts and industry participants alike. Movements in cattle futures have been hard to understand and at times are undecipherable. The relationship between market fundamentals and technicals has been breached and futures frequently seem to be trading off of no information in the cash marketplace. Macro-economic traders are clashing with fundamental traders and money often overwhelms the market and sets the direction of the markets.

Not long ago, April live cattle futures were trading in the $140s. Since that time, the cash market has pulled or drug the futures higher and this week was no exception. We are operating in the delivery month and futures continue to sell $4-6 under the cash. Most respected analysts call for this past week to be the market high and expect declines from this point forward. Where have we heard that before?

The June live cattle contract continues to sell $15 cwt. under cash markets. Historically and seasonally it is not unusual for June to sell at a large discount to April or the April cash. Packers hope the diminished slaughter of the past month will back up live cattle in the feedlots and change their relative bargaining position in the marketplace. Certainly packer margins threaten the possibility of another large plant closing.

No place has the divergence between cash and futures been stranger than in the feeder markets. While April live cattle have rallied to the cash, the April feeder cattle contract has matched that rally and then some. The difference is striking. April feeder cattle have rallied with very little encouragement from the deferred live cattle contracts against which the April feeder cattle are placed. Grain also has not provided much support for higher feeder cattle prices. The April contract has all of the earmarkings of a classic squeeze. April movements are generally light with most graze out cattle held into May. No liquidity sets the stage for a squeeze.

The fact that traders are hesitant to take the long side of the live cattle futures is not surprising when some pork producers are wondering if there is enough processing capacity to find a slot for all the pigs on the market. Pork is forecast to reach a record high in production this year. The chicken companies also are ramping up and the export picture is bleak with the dollar remaining high. All of these factors are repeatedly mentioned for a bearish view of the cattle markets. But if the cattle market crashes, it won't be because of too many cattle when numbers are looking to be shorter than last year.

Ag Center Cattle Report

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High Stakes, Dashed Hopes:
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In the cash cattle world this week turned a page. Instead of being backed into a 5 o’clock corner and paying up $2, packers got wily and creative. Slashing kills to tiny levels, jamming boxed beef values higher and using bearish technical futures action and the calendar to turn the tables and attempt to regain leverage in cash cattle negotiations.

Fair or Foul?

Some are crying foul to the way the $163 trade for May delivery was handled this week because these trades so far represent the only cash trade for this week. There’s also concern that a portion of these cattle were a basis trade, not flat price and weren’t reported accurately. All this brings up the uncomfortable question, how will formulas and tops get priced if there is no additional cash trade? It certainly doesn’t seem fair to cattle feeders that cattle that won’t ship for 3 weeks price early April cattle. But if the packers are operating within USDA’s mandatory pricing reporting rules, what can be done?

Bids are all over the place this morning, with rumors of $165 in western Nebraska to a few $162 bids in Kansas. $260 in eastern Nebraska and even $263 by a regional in Iowa—all lower than yesterday in most cases and lower than last week.

Packers are desperate to stop the bleeding- cattle shortage or no. There is a widespread rumor that a major packer will make a big announcement today related to beef plant operations. This too has sparked nervousness and concern, viewed only as bearish.

Futures Fall Apart

CME cattle futures are reflecting the bearish tone fully with today’s action, with spot Apr LC touching limit down after failing to hold the important gap left a few weeks ago. Futures are looking at a big outside week with a lower close, the lowest in 2 weeks.

Technicians are pressing the bear case today as are fundamentalists. It is interesting that unlike the breaks in December, January and February at least so far, this one hasn’t locked limit down as of yet. Perhaps the boy has cried wolf a few too many times and with the enormous discounts and backwardation of the market structure the lust for new lows has finally been diminished. This futures market has proved it can break hard, fast and ugly at the drop of a hat, but it’s been way easier said than done to do the same in the cash market.

The Beef

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Photo of the Week:
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  • Angus & Red Angus Bred Heifers... North TX*
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    Shootin' the Bull Weekly Analysis
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    n my opinion, the bearish fundamentals that have been swirling for weeks are coming home to roost.  Packers are perceived to have a heavy hand on the kill throttle.  Manipulating the kill to back fats up and keep boxes higher has been floating around for a couple of weeks now.  The increase of numbers on the show list and an increase in the kill weights is weighing in on the decline this week as well. 

    A great deal of my technical analysis relies on the Elliott Wave Theory.  This week I projected some down side targets that most could not believe.  However, the wave theory suggests that corrections, of the same magnitude of the thrusts, will produce like price widths of waves A and C.  In the case of the fats, the initial decline on the June contract is $21.98.  This is perceived the wave A.  Wave B high is perceived as Monday's high of $154.67.  If one subtracts $21.98 from $154.67, you get $132.69.  This is the downside target for June.  Some say it won't ever happen, but that is less than $6.00 lower than the current contract low.  June is $1.00 away from beginning to overlap the previous highs made from January through March.  Up trend lines have been broken, technical indicators have turned south and thin to non-existent margins are anticipated to keep pressure on the futures.

    Feeder cattle are in a slightly different scenario.  While the Elliott Wave count is similar, the aspects of why feeder prices are going down differs.  In my opinion, there was such a mad rush to own inventory when the weather broke, some forgot to calculate whether paying up for inventory would produce a profit.  It was primarialy the futures that were so low and not the cash. Therefore, there was little lower price feeders available as the cash market had remained elevated as the futures fell.  Any animal that could have potentially put on more weight outside the feed lot was not placed.  This created a significant price spread between the lighter weight and heavier weight feeder cattle class of animal.  So, some producers bought light weight feeders at the high end of the price range and in a few months will be selling heavy weight feeders at what is anticipated to be a significant discount. 

    Nonetheless, with a majority of the lighter weight cattle now on a pasture or program, the upcoming sales are anticipated to include more heavy weight feeders bound for a yard.  This is anticipated to begin to bring the feeder cattle index down sharply as the number of lighter weight cattle, at the higher prices, begins to subside. The wave count on the feeders is nearly the same.  Basis the August contract, the initial wave A down measured $40.18. If you subtract that from the wave B high made this week at $221.45, you get a downside target to $181.27.  On Tuesday, I made the recommendation to own the $212.00 August puts and the $210.00 October puts.  ***This is a sales solicitation.***  I continued with this recommendation all through the week.  So, with inventory slated to be slightly larger in stocker and back grounding operations this summer than last, and the thin to non-existent profit margins, producers are urged to protect what price is available today that may or may not be available in the future. 

    Corn has been the market that has not performed as anticipated, yet.  I continue to anticipate corn to move higher.  The more it wallows around down here, the greater the boost up will be if my analysis is confirmed. 

    Christopher B. Swift is a commodity broker and consultant with Swift Trading Company in Nashville, TN. Mr. Swift authors the daily commentaries "mid day cattle comment" and "Shootin' the Bull" commentary found on his website @ www.shootinthebull.com

    An investment in futures contracts is speculative, involves a high degree of risk and is suitable only for persons who can assume the risk of loss in excess of their margin deposits.  You should carefully consider whether futures trading is appropriate for you in light of your investment experience, trading objectives, financial resources and other relevant circumstances. PAST PERFORMANCE IS NOT NECESSARILY INDICATIVE OF FUTURE RESULTS.

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    North American Cattle Situation: Canada
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    The North American cattle and beef market is a complex set of cattle and beef flows among Canada, Mexico and the U.S.  These trade flows played a role in the unprecedented production and prices that occurred in 2014 and will play a role in 2015 and beyond.  Trade impacts among the NAFTA countries were generally as expected in 2014.  Beef imports from Canada increased while beef exports to Canada decreased compared to 2013.  Cattle imports from Canada and Mexico also increased year over year along with beef imports from Mexico.  Canada and Mexico accounted for a combined 31.1 percent of U.S. beef exports and 30.9 percent of U.S. beef imports in 2014. The impact of Canada and Mexico on the U.S. cattle and beef market may be different in 2015. More detail on the Canadian situation follows.

    U.S. imports of Canadian beef increased 11.9 percent in 2014 compared to one year earlier. Canadian cattle slaughter and beef production increased year over year in 2014 as cattle inventories continued to decline.  However, cattle slaughter and beef production are expected to decline in 2015.  Canadian beef exports are expected to close to 2014 levels in 2015 due to tight supplies.  Nevertheless, U.S. imports of Canadian beef are up nearly 14 percent in the first two months of 2015.  U.S. beef exports to Canada have continued to fall in 2015 with January and February combined beef exports to Canada down 20.9 percent.

    Canadian feedlots have struggled with competitive disadvantages to the U.S. and limited cattle supplies.  Feedlot placements in Canada dropped sharply in the second half of 2014.  Feedlot placements in Alberta and Saskatchewan were down 16.9 percent year over year in the four months from last November through February.  March 1 cattle on feed inventories in Alberta and Saskatchewan were down 11.7 percent from one year ago.  Feedlot marketings in these two major Canadian cattle feeding provinces were down 14.6 percent in January and February compared to the same two months last year.  Fewer feedlot marketings in Canada impacts Canadian beef production and slaughter cattle exports.  Combined January and February U.S. imports of Canadian slaughter cattle were down 34.6 percent year over year, including a 55.1 percent decrease in slaughter steer imports; a 40.8 percent decrease in slaughter heifer imports; and 21.4 percent fewer cull cows imported for slaughter.

    Record high U.S. feeder prices and a strong dollar favor Canadian exports of feeder cattle to the U.S.  U.S. imports of Canadian feeder cattle increased 37.8 percent in 2014 over the previous year.  This increase consisted of a 60 percent year over year increase in feeder heifers exported to the U.S. along with a 7 percent increase in feeder steers exported to the U.S.  In the first two months of 2015, total U.S. imports of Canadian feeder cattle are up a more modest 7 percent; the result of a 51.2 percent increase in feeder steer imports combined with a 12.6 percent decrease in feeder heifer exports. 

    January 1, 2015 Canadian cattle inventories confirmed that cattle herd liquidation continued in 2014 with a beef cow herd of 4.78 million cows, down two percent from the previous year.  Beef replacement inventories were down one percent as well, indicating that herd expansion has not yet started in Canada.  This is consistent with slaughter and export data indicating that heifer slaughter in Canada was up 9 percent in 2014; 24 percent more slaughter heifers were exported to the U.S. and 60 percent more feeder heifers were exported in 2014 compared to 2013.  Decreased feeder and slaughter heifer exports so far in 2015 may indicate that heifer retention is beginning in Canada.

    Decreased beef production in Canada in 2015 will hold beef exports close to 2014 levels despite favorable exchange rates.  U.S. imports of Canadian beef may moderate in the coming months from the strong year over year increases posted in January and February, though the U.S. may be picking up a larger share of total Canadian beef exports.  Slaughter cattle imports from Canada are already down year over year and will likely remain lower due to decreased Canadian feedlot production. Herd rebuilding may result in fewer cull cows exported to the U.S. for slaughter in 2015.  U.S. imports of Canadian feeder cattle may also moderate in coming months as a result of tight Canadian cattle supplies and increased heifer retention in Canada.  Compared to 2014, Canada is likely to contribute relatively less to U.S. beef supplies, slaughter cattle supplies, and feeder cattle supplies in 2015.

    Derrell S. Peel, Oklahoma State University

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    Margin between the Choice Boxed Beef Cutout & Feeder Steers:
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    5 Year Average: $43.97 -- This Week: $37.57
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    Out of Kilter:
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    A good way to determine if something is, “going on” in a market is by noticing when market relationships are out of kilter. Cattle and grains typically have a positive correlation. They tend to move in tandem. Moderately increase the price of corn and the cattle will follow suit. The opposite is also true as the cost of feed declines, so does the cost of production. However, when this relationship breaks down, its because one market can't keep pace or pass on the costs of the other. 

    That is what occurred in the spring of 2012 with cattle and corn. The price of feed exceeded the livestock market's ability to pass on the costs.  Over the 2013 summer months, the gap was erased and corn went "Out of Kilter" last fall.  A correction started in January but ran out of steam in view of surging cattle prices and plummeting corn prices.

    Normally, the value of 25 bushels of corn is approximately equal to the price per cwt. for feeder steers.

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    5 Year Moving Average:
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    Crude/Cattle Correlation:
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    The chart below shows a fairly consistent correlation between the price for a barrel of crude oil and the per cwt. price for slaughter cattle.  Since it is unlikely the price of cattle affects the price of oil on the world market, it might be assumed the price of crude oil affects the price of cattle, but that is unlikely as well.  It is more likely that economic factors affecting demand for crude oil have a similar effect on demand for beef.

    Accordingly, in the absence of geo/political events disrupting or distorting oil supply, since price trends occur slightly sooner in the crude oil market, crude oil has been a good indicator of the direction of near term cattle prices. However, with increased supplies of crude oil and decreased supplies of slaughter cattle, an "Out of Kilter" situation between the two commodities has developed.

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    5 Year Moving Average:
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    Slaughter Cows & Bulls:
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    Slaughter cows and bulls sold unevenly steady.

    USDA's Cutter cow carcass cut-out value Friday afternoon was 231.50 -- Up .32 from last Friday.

                  %Lean    Weight        Colorado          Oklahoma        Alabama 
    Breakers 75-80%   1100-1600   111.00-116.00  112.00-118.00  105.00-106.00
    Boners    80-85%   1000-1450   110.00-114.00  115.00-122.00  112.00-117.00
    Lean       85-90%   1000-1300   107.00-112.00  107.00-115.00  105.00-110.00
    Bulls       88-92%   1300-2500   136.00-141.00  139.00-147.50  133.00-138.00

                         Confirmed     Week Ago     Year Ago   Week to Date  Week Ago    Year Ago
    NATIONAL      6,273             6,693             6,463         33,363           32,971         31,269
    S CENTRAL    1,745             2,119             1,578          9,915             8,962           9,040
    N CENTRAL       518                604               666          2,145             2,450           2,108
    EAST              1,691             1,652            1,953          9,193              9,179          8,479
    WEST             1,201             1,375            1,136          6,577              6,831          5,015
    MIDWEST       1,118                943            1,130          5,533              5,549          6,627


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    Weekly Hay Reports:"Click" on links for detailed report
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    Weekly Feedstuffs Market Review:
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    The USDA Market News Service reports feed ingredient prices for the week ending April 7, were mixed compared to last Tuesday. 
    • Soybean Meal was 0.20 to 18.10 lower.  Cottonseed Meal was 2.00 to 5.00 lower. Canola Meal was mixed, 7.10 lower to 3.00 higher.  Linseed Meal was 5.00 to 10.00 higher.  Sunflower Meal was steady to 5.00 higher. 
    • Whole Cottonseed was mixed 2.00 lower to 10.00 higher, mostly steady.
    • Crude Soybean Oil was 39 to 64 higher, mostly 64 higher.  Crude Corn Oil was steady. 
    • Ruminant Meat and Bone Meal was mixed 20.00 lower to 10.00 higher.  Ruminant Blood Meal was 25.00 to 75.00 lower.  Feather Meal was steady to 52.00 higher. Menhaden Fishmeal was steady. 
    • Corn Hominy was steady to 6.00 lower.  Gluten Feed was mixed 10.00 lower to 15.00 higher. Corn Gluten Meal was mixed 15.00 lower to 15.00 higher. 
    • Distillers Dried Grains were mixed, 5.00 lower to 14.00 higher mostly 5.00 lower to 5.00 higher. 
    • Wheat middlings were mixed, 10.00 lower to 25.00 higher.  Wheat millrun offers were 5.00 to 10.00 lower.

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    Beef Imports & Exports:
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    • Beef imports were up 48.8% during February with most of the increase coming from Australia, Brazil, Mexico and New Zealand. Beef imports equaled 14.4% of U.S. production during February.
    • U.S. beef exports were down 2.6% in February with sizable declines in shipments to Mexico, Hong Kong and Canada. Beef exports equaled 10.1% of February production.
    • Cattle imports from Canada were down 15.2% in February. Imports of cattle from Mexico were up 3.5% compared to February 2014.
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    Est. Weekly Meat Production Under Federal Inspection:
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    Total red meat production under Federal inspection for the week ending Saturday, April 11, 2015 was estimated at 880.8 million lbs. according to the U.S.Department of Agriculture's Marketing Service. This was 2.4 percent lower than a week ago and 1.6 percent lower than a year ago.  Cumulative meat production for the year to date was 0.2 percent lower compared to the previous year.
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    Bullish/Bearish Consensus:
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    The theory behind the "Bullish/Bearish Consensus" indicator is when the public reaches a consensus, they are usually wrong:
    • They get too bullish after prices have risen, and too bearish after they have already fallen.
    Because of this tendency, there are often extremes in opinion right before major changes in trend:
    • When the public reaches a bullish extreme, i.e., a great majority thinks prices will keep rising, then prices often decline instead. 
    • And when they become too bearish, then prices tend to rise.
    So when Public Opinion moves above the red dotted line in the chart, it means that compared to other readings over the past year, you're seeing excessive optimism.  You also want to look at the absolute level of Opinion, too - if it's at 90%, then there's no question we're seeing an historic level of bullish opinion.  Watch for readings above 80% (or especially 90%) to spot those dangerous times when the public is overly enthusiastic about a commodity.

    Conversely, when Public Opinion moves below the green dotted line, then the public is excessively pessimistic about the commodity's prospects for further gains compared to their opinion over the past year.  Looking for absolute readings under 20% (or especially 10%) often indicates an upturn in the market.

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    Bullish/Bearish Consensus - Cattle
    Last Updated: April 7th
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    Bullish/Bearish Consensus - Corn
    Last Updated: April 7th
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    Economic News:
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    Stocks rise as investors await earnings reports: The large-cap benchmarks saw healthy gains for the week as investors awaited the full onslaught of first-quarter earnings reporting season. The large-cap benchmarks outperformed their smaller-cap counterparts, thanks in part to the strong performance of industrial giant GE. U.S. small-cap stocks have performed significantly better than large-caps for the year to date due to their lesser exposure to overseas earnings, which have been pressured by the strong U.S. dollar.

    Investors shrug off March jobs surprise: Stocks opened sharply lower on Monday as traders had their first chance to react to the Labor Department's announcement the previous Friday of a surprisingly sharp slowdown in payroll growth. Stocks quickly regained their footing, however, as some investors appeared to determine that the pullback in the labor market was an aberration and might even prove a positive for stocks if it led the Federal Reserve to delay raising interest rates.

    Several Federal Reserve officials thought that the U.S. central bank would be able to raise interest rates for the first time in June, according to minutes from the March meeting released Wednesday. At the same time, others thought a rate hike would not be warranted until later in the year as low oil prices and the strong dollar would likely hold inflation down. The minutes of the March 17-18 meeting might not reflect the current thinking of U.S. central bank officials in light of the weak March job data released two weeks later. During their discussions, Fed officials set a low bar for lift-off, saying they didn't need to see an increase in core price inflation or wage inflation before hiking rates. Further improvement in the labor markets, stabilization of energy prices or a leveling out of the value of the dollar might be enough to move, officials said. In their discussions of the exit strategy, Fed officials for the first time floated the idea of selling very short-term Treasury securities from their massive balance sheet as a potential tool although some officials were cool to the idea because it might cause "an outsized market reaction."

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    "Click Here" to view a Slide Show of Drought Monitor maps for the last 12 weeks
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    Looking Ahead:
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    • Precipitation is expected to migrate from the Gulf Coast into the Midwest in the coming days. The Pacific Northwest is likely to see precipitation each day. The rest of the country is expected to remain dry. Warmer than normal temperatures are expected over most of the contiguous U.S. during the same time. The Pacific Northwest is the only exception to this with below-normal temperatures expected throughout the period.
    • The NWS 6-10 day outlooks call for normal to warm conditions over the U.S. with the exception of the northern West and western Alaska which should experience below-normal temperatures. Precipitation during that timeframe is expected to be normal to above-normal across the country with the exception of the far West and extreme northern Alaska which are expected to be below-normal.
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    "Waters of the U.S." Update:
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    The EPA has sent the long-delayed “waters of the U.S.” proposed rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for final approval. The rule was proposed by the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers a year ago and the plan has faced a lot of opposition from agriculture groups and others. The rule is supposed to clarify which waters are subject to regulation under the Clean Water Act. EPA received more than 1 million comments during the open comment period and the details of the “final” rule are not yet known. However, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy says the rule will narrow the definition of tributaries and clarify that only ditches that serve as tributaries and can carry water downstream will be included.

    It is possible that OMB will approve the proposed “waters of the U.S” rule in the next month or so but that may not be the end of the story. Several Senators have said that when Congress reconvenes next week they will introduce legislation that would send the proposed rule back to the agencies for a rewrite. Approval of such legislation is likely in the House and has a pretty good chance of passing in the Senate where several Democrats have expressed concern about the proposed rule.

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    Feedyard Closeouts: Profit/(Loss)
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    • Typical closeout for steers sold this week & hedged when placed on feed: ($58.05)
    • Typical closeout for un-hedged steers sold this week: ($112.46)
    • Projected closeout based on the futures & estimated Cost of Gain for steers placed on feed this week: ($128.01)
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    Slaughter Cattle:
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    Friday in the Texas Panhandle trading was at a standstill. Last week live sales sold at 167.00. Thus far for Friday in Kansas, the Northern Plains and the Western Cornbelt trading has been slow on light demand. In Kansas compared to last week live sales have sold 4.00 lower at 163.00 on a light test, the majority of these sales are for 15-30 day out delivery. In Nebraska when compared to the previous week dressed sales have sold 3.00 to 9.00 lower from 256.00 to 263.00 the majority of these sales are for 15-30 day out delivery. Not enough live sales for a market trend. Last week live sales sold mostly at 168.00. In Colorado, when compared to the prior week, live sales have sold 7.00 lower at 163.00 these sales are for 15-30 day out delivery. In the Western Cornbelt, when compared to the prior week, dressed sales have sold 2.00 to 5.00 lower from 260.00 to 263.00 the majority of these sales are for 15-30 day out delivery. Not enough live sales for a market trend. The reported live sales market was last week with live sales from 167.00-168.00.
     
    Livestock Slaughter under Federal Inspection:
                                               CATTLE   CALVES      HOGS      SHEEP
    Friday 04/10/2015        (est)       90,000     2,000        407,000     7,000
    Week ago (est)                         97,000     2,000        406,000     8,000
    Year ago (act)                         103,000     3,000        366,000    10,000
    Week to date (est)                  498,000    10,000     1,980,000    39,000
    Same Period Last Week (est)  518,000    10,000     2,129,000    52,000
    Same Period Last Year (act)    565,000    11,000     1,993,000    49,000

    Saturday 04/11/2015      (est)      4,000         0           208,000         0
    Week ago (est)                          7,000         0             65,000         0
    Year ago (act)                          10,000         0             22,000      3,000
    Week to date (est)                  502,000    10,000     2,188,000     39,000
    Same Period Last Week (est)  525,000    10,000     2,194,000     52,000
    Same Period Last Year* (act)  575,000     11,000     2,015,000    52,000
    2015 Year to Date                7,661,000   132,000   32,054,000   560,000
    2014 *Year to Date               8,294,000   185,000   30,581,000   584,000
    Percent change                    -7.6%        -28.8%        4.8%        -4.1%

    Negotiated prices paid for Slaughter Steers and Heifers:

    Live basis             Steers                               Heifers
    Over 80% Choice    163.00-168.00 avg 165.15   163.00-166.00 avg 163.65
    65 - 80% Choice     163.00-166.00 avg 163.50   163.00-166.00 avg 164.61
    35 - 65% Choice     163.00-163.00 avg 163.00   163.00-163.00 avg 163.00
    0 - 35% Choice             -                                           -
    Total all grades    163.00-168.00 avg 163.75   163.00-166.00 avg 164.19

    Dressed basis
    Over 80% Choice    250.00-264.00 avg 262.17   260.00-263.00 avg 261.13
    65 - 80% Choice     256.00-263.00 avg 257.31   260.00-263.00 avg 260.61
    35 - 65% Choice     258.00-260.00 avg 259.24   260.00-260.00 avg 260.00
    0 - 35% Choice             -                                           -
    Total all grades    250.00-264.00 avg 258.45   260.00-263.00 avg 260.74

     

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    National Grain Summary:
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    Compared to last week, grains closed the week lower as wheat traders remain focused on weather conditions, moisture is in the forecast for a mojor part of the winter wheat areas  USDA released its WASDE report on Thursday with all ending stocks of grain estimates within range of pre-report expectations.  USDA increased corn ending stocks to 1.827 bb up 50 mb from last month.  Globally ending stocks for corn came in at 188.46mmt, slightly higher than estimates.  USDA lowered its ending stocks for soybeans by 15 mb to 370 mb.  World ending stocks were unchanged at 89.53 mmt.  Wheat had some adjustments, resulting in a t mb decline to ending stocks at 684 mb.  USDA lowered world wheat ending stocks by 0.05 mmt to 197.21 mmt.  Corn had weekly export sales of 27.7 mb, with 25.2 mb for 2014-2015 marketing year.  Soybeans had weekly export sales of 12 mb, with cancellations of 6.5 mb for 2014-2015 marketing year.
    Corn Futures Summary: Corn futures dipped Friday. Although domestic data on Thursday’s Export Sales and WASDE reports seemed supportive, traders reportedly focused upon Thursday’s USDA’s increase in its global carryout forecast during Friday’s session. The soybean market’s inability to rise on good export news, as well as concurrent U.S. dollar strength, may also have weighed on yellow grain prices. May corn futures sank 1.0 cent to $3.77/bushel at Friday’s CBOT settlement, while December lost 1.0 to $4.025.

    Soybean Futures Summary: The soy complex came back from early lows. Soybean and product futures traded narrowly mixed Thursday night, then suffered modest declines this morning. Given the bullish export news reported after the morning reopening, that was not expected. The ongoing South American harvest, on top of the bearish price effects of the U.S. dollar surge, probably weighed on prices. Conversely, the late-session comeback, with oil following crude oil higher, was rather impressive; that suggested a strong start next week. May soybean futures ended the week having declined 2.0 cents to $9.515/bushel Friday, while May soyoil bounced 0.25 cents to 31.09 cents/pound, and May meal sagged just $2.9 to $309.2/ton.

    Wheat Futures Summary: The wheat markets posted a late-session resurgence. Despite the general bearishness of the global wheat situation and the elevated nature of U.S. grain prices (circumstances being exacerbated by fresh U.S. dollar gains), wheat futures posted sizeable gains Friday. Wire service reports highlighted persistent southern Plains dryness and reports of freezing Thursday night temperatures for the rally. May CBOT wheat climbed 7.75 cents to $5.265/bushel around midsession Friday, while May KC wheat lifted 7.25 cents to $5.5875/bushel, and May MWE wheat advanced 7.0 to $5.81.

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    Five Year Moving Average - Corn & Wheat
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