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For the week ending January 18th:
Feeder cattle were the big loser with the CME Feeder Index closing 3.41 lower, the January Feeder Cattle futures contract down nearly 5 points, and cash prices down $3 to $7 per cwt. at numerous markets. Slaughter cattle traded steady with last week at $124 per cwt. On the upside, dressed beef was higher with the select cutout $3.18 higher.
In addition to feedyards struggling to show a profit, feeder cattle prices are being further depressed by Mother Nature with some feedyards limiting the number of cattle they receive for the balance of January as they wait for snow to melt and/or pens to dry out.
In the slaughter cattle market, the packers remain in the “driver’s seat” with beef margins increasing by as much as five times as normal for December, a month that usually experiences a seasonal pullback. As the industry reaches the end of a multi-year expansion of the cow herd, packers will likely be able to maintain strong margins for the foreseeable future.
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