Compared to last week, feeder steers and heifers sold 3.00-8.00 higher, with instances 9.00-10.00 higher.  Feeder steers and heifers in the southeast traded 2.00-5.00 higher.  Trade was active on good to very good demand for all classes. The feeder market rebounded from last week’s lower trade with the possibility of China lifting the ban on U.S. beef causing speculation early in the week, however, it was made official which lend support.  In some parts of the north, backgrounded feeders that were carrying extra flesh saw minimal discounts as buyers were looking for good quality cattle.  In other areas, discounts were steep and customers were more selective on quality.  The Northern Plains, where some of the best cattle reside, continue to report the highest feeder prices.  In Bassett, Neb. two loads of steers averaging 701 lbs brought 156.25.  Ogallala, Neb. sold over 200 head of steers averaging 670 lbs at 173.55 and 279 head of steers averaging 821 lbs at 146.27.  Throughout most of the week live and feeder cattle futures had a whole new attitude, posting triple digit gains on the nearby and through the summer month contracts, which provided leverage to trade.  The April live cattle has been gaining a lot of ground inching closer to the cash slaughter market.  For the week, live cattle contracts for April gained 5.32 closing at 125.37, and April feeders were up 4.05 at 137.80 as compared to last Friday’s close.  USDA is projecting U.S. beef exports to expand by 6.9 percent in 2017 and pork exports are forecasted to increase 8.4 percent.  Beef production is forecasted to grow 5 percent.  The best news is on imports as they are estimated to decline by 9 percent on beef and 4.3 percent on pork.  The warmer weather and much needed rain received across the Plains and Midwest spurred renewed interest for grazing calves.  The break in moisture and plenty of sunshine have fueled pasture growth and demand.  However, thunderstorms are expected later in the week in the mid-section of the U.S.  Cattle grazers are feeling very optimistic about the market as all indicators are showing positive signs.  There was not much action seen on the FED Cattle Exchange on Wednesday as consignors passed on bids.  Only 120 head of steers were sold at 126.00 out of over 5000 head on offer.  Consignors felt confident in waiting it out in hopes of receiving higher prices.  Those hopes did come to life when feedlot trade broke on Thursday in the Southern Plains with live sales trading 2.00 higher than last week at 128.00.  In Nebraska trade and demand was moderate.  Compared to the previous week, dressed sales sold mostly 6.00-7.00 higher from 206.00-208.00, mostly 206.00-207.00, with some sales having greater than a two week delivery.  Live sales in Nebraska were 2.00-8.00 higher from 128.00-130.00 and in Colorado a few live sale traded from 128.00-130.00.  Auction volume this week included 53 percent weighing over 600 lbs and 45 percent heifers.
SOURCE:  USDA Livestock, Poultry and Grain Market News Division, St. Joseph, MO