Compared to last week, steers and heifers sold 3.00 lower to 3.00 higher and everywhere in between, with some early week auctions being outliers and called 5.00 or more higher.  The light cattle market has been strong the past couple of weeks and this one has been no different.  With turnout time just around the corner and April in our windshield, several auctions in the North Plains reported 3 weight and light 4 weight steer top prices over 200.00/cwt.  The aggressiveness in bidding by order buyers were tempered this week as the CME cattle complex wavered after last week’s sharp increase to finish the week around 2.00 lower than last Friday’s close.  Direct receipts were considerably lower since the later week bids were declining and it prompted many to pass the bids and wait for another week.  Levels are still higher than two weeks ago and some caution about the market was in the cards this week.  Much needed moisture fell in the TX/OK panhandles and Southwest Kansas mid-week as ranchers are trying to recover from the devastating wildfires that occurred at the beginning of the month.  Reports of a tint of green growing from the blackened areas have surfaced with newfound optimism the recent rains brought on.  The agriculture community is a resilient bunch and this will eventually be a bump in the road that brings the 2 percent even closer together.  Analysts have been reporting positive feedyard margins for over 4 months now with recent closeout anecdotes of some pens receiving over $400/head profit.  With the increase in Boxed Beef cutouts recently and some of those cattle being bought during the October/ November lows, the potential for that substantial profit is very real.  With the recent runup of Boxed Beef values and fed cattle prices in the last 45 days, there is cause for the market to pause and catch its breath.  Compared to last week, Fed cattle traded 2.00 to 5.00 lower at 125.00 to 128.00 in the Southern Plains.  This week around the auction circuit; on Thursday at Ogallala, Neb. a load of 877 lb steers sold at 137.50.  Additionally, replacement stock is still in demand in the North Plains as a load of 777 lb replacement red heifers in Aberdeen, SD at Hub City Livestock sold for 157.00 or near $1220/head.  USDA’s Grain Report on Friday, estimated corn acres came in under expectations at 90 million acres, down 4 million from last year.  Soybean acres came in over expectations at 89.5 million acres, 6 million more than a year ago.  Corn stocks for March 2016 reported at 8.62 billion bushels up 10 percent from last year.  Soybean stocks rose 13 percent from last year at 1.73 billion bushels.  The figures give an indication that larger carryout estimates will be seen than currently used in balance sheets and could be a tough road to hoe if growing conditions are normal for farmers.  Auction volume this week included 56 percent
weighing over 600 lbs and 45 percent heifers.
SOURCE:  USDA Livestock, Poultry and Grain Market News Division, St. Joseph, MO