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Thomas Elwood: Early livestock commentary

Agriculture.com Staff 08/25/2010 @ 8:44am

Cattle traded in all areas Tuesday at $99.50 live, $0.50 lower from the top end of trade last week.  

Dressed bids in Nebraska were up to $154, with no trade reported. The lower trade early in the week 

surprised and dismayed bulls in the market, who had expected feedlots to hold out for at least steady 

money this week.  Many felt feedlots could have successfully forced packers to pay $100 or better again 

this week if they had waited for another day or so.  More cattle probably need to trade this week, though 

some look for a quiet market today as feedlots regroup. 

 

The choice cutout was up $0.67 at $163.6 last night, with the select up $.070 at $156.78. Volume was 

even smaller than on Monday, with fewer than 100 loads of graded cuts traded.  Most primals were 

steady to firm again, but the market does appear to be losing some momentum.  If packers pay 

consistently lower this week for cattle, it will be much harder to push prices higher next week.  Labor 

Day demand is basically satisfied. 

HOGS

Cash hog market calls are mostly steady this morning, but with weakness still expected in the East.  

Hog numbers are coming much more easily and weights are going up now that the weather has cooled in 

the Midwest.  Iowa/S. Minn barrow and gilt weights increased a full pound last week despite a bigger 

slaughter.  An even bigger cool front has pushed down overnight, bringing temperatures lower yet again.  

Note Tuesday's slaughter may be revised downward due to a breakdown at one plant. The plant is back 

up running today, and Tuesday's shortfall will be made up on Saturday. 

 

The pork cutout gained $1.07 last night.  Loins were quoted generally steady again, but parts of that 

complex have strengthened this week, leading to a big bump in the overall cutout contribution.  Butts 

were 4 cents lower.  Hams were not established, but reportedly are still tight and firm.  Bellies were 

quoted steady. 

 

Last night's CME weekly storage report showed an out-movement of 2.368 mill lbs compared to an 

out-movement last year of 1.237 mill lbs. Stocks now total 2.941 mill lbs compared to 33.978 mill lbs 

last year.   At current rates of draw, the industry basically will be out of bellies in CME approved 

warehouses as of the end of this week. We expect national warehouses to be in a similar situation in a 

week or two.  Fortunately fresh production is ramping up quickly, though belly prices likely will stay 

firm until slaughter consistently exceeds the 2.1 mill head level.

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