Compared to last week, steers and heifers were steady to 7.00 higher, with the early week sales being steady to 4.00 higher and later week auctions 3.00 to 7.00 higher.  There were instances when trends this week were called up to 9.00 higher as the CME cattle complex was sharply higher mid week and didn’t give up the ghost as the week moved on.  News of fed cattle trade on Wednesday spurred the markets higher when some cattle were reported on the FCE at 136.50 in Nebraska which would be 4.00 to 5.00 higher than last weeks sales.  Dressed sales were turned in on Thursday at 215.00, 5.00 higher than last week.  Support flowed over to the Feeder Cattle contracts when they were from 3.00 to almost 4.50 higher for the week, with the most gain coming in the further out months.  With all the support around the circuit, spring has sprung and cattle buyers were bidding readily and aggressively for all offerings on hand at auctions nationwide.  On Wednesday in Kearney, NE at Huss-Platte Valley Livestock Auction a package of 707 lb steers with all the bells and whistles sold at 155.00 and a load of 542 lb thin fleshed steers rang the bell at 186.50.  Additionally on Wednesday in St Joseph, MO a load plus of 877 lb steers sold for 138.00 and a short load of 806 lb steers sold at 144.75.  On Thursday in Valentine, Neb. a load of 757 lb steers went for 152.00 and a string of 718 lb replacement heifers sold of $1335.00 per head which would equate to around 186.00/cwt.  Feedyards are optimistic and are getting in a much better position as the bottom lines are much better now than they were at the first of the year.  Boxed beef has rallied since the beginning of February, the implied packer margins are back in the black and packers have been more than willing to pay up for live cattle.  Since February 10, Choice Boxed Beef has gained around $35.00 and this is going through the month of March, which is not known for its spectacular demand.  Some of the boxed beef sales may now be going the way of exports as a number of importing countries that utilize beef from Brazil announced that they are either suspending, curtailing or enhancing inspections of meat from that country.  Brazil has surpassed the US in exports and in recent years has become the
largest global supplier of red meat and poultry products.  Analysts are looking at how many dollars of product that could be affected by suspension of those products and with approximately $5.5 B worth exported from Brazil in CY 2016, it could be a boon for other countries that step up production and fill the void.  Wednesday’s Cold Storage Report showed total red meat supplies in freezers were up 1 percent from the previous month but down 6 percent from last year. Total pounds of beef in freezers were down 7 percent from the previous month and down 1 percent from last year.  The outgoing pace of frozen beef supplies in February is supportive to the cattle industry and it appears that participants have been drawing on those freezer stocks that were purchased last fall at lower prices.  Cattle on Feed report released today came in within analyst expectations as the On Feed number is at 100 percent; placements at 99 percent and Marketings at 104 percent.  Auction volume this week included 58 percent weighing over 600 lbs and 43 percent heifers.
SOURCE: USDA Livestock, Poultry and Grain Market News Division, St. Joseph, MO