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CME: Futures Market Points to Optimism in Feeder Cattle Demand in Q1

02 January 2019

US - Feeder cattle cash prices have been falling for the last several weeks in major feeder cattle markets for 700 to 800-pound steers, reports Steiner Consulting Group, DLR Division, Inc.

In the month of December, most markets have lost ground, continuing a longer term slide that started near the end of October.

In the last month, Washington prices have slipped $5.55 per cwt, one of the largest losses noted from various markets.

Nebraska 700 to 800- pound feeders fared only slightly better and have dropped $4.87 per cwt this month since the first week.

Montana auction prices are down $2.69 per cwt, while Georgia feeders are $1.19 lower.

South Dakota saw a boost mid-month but in the latest week of data were closer with the first week of December, down $0.43 per cwt.

Feeders in the same weight group declined $1.44 in the combined Southern Plains auction this month.

Quite the opposite has been true for the feeder cattle futures market in the month of December.

January, March, and April’s feeder cattle contracts closed last week on a high note, ending the week with the highest daily close values seen in the month of December.

Since the Cattle on Feed report was released on 20 December, the nearby feeder futures contract has climbed $2.88 per cwt.

Similarly, March and April contracts closed Friday $2.60 and $2.40 per cwt higher than the 19 December close values.

The futures market points to optimism in the demand for feeder cattle in the first quarter.

However, feedlots placed fewer cattle in the last three months than compared to a year earlier, and larger calf crops in 2017 and 2018 suggest there should be plenty of cattle available for placement in the first quarter.

Feedlots had a tough year in 2018, which could also limit willingness to pay in 2019 for feeders.

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