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The Cattle Range Weekly Market Summary provides market data for the informed cattleman. Current industry news & commentary as well as a comprehensive comparison of the past week's prices from around the country in comparison to the previous week, month, 6 months ago, 1 year ago, & 5 year average.  The data is compiled from a variety of sources and is organized to provide insight in determining market movement and trends.
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SAMPLE... Market Summary for the week ending April 11th:
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  • Bullish: Feeder Cattle Futures Contracts continued to move higher this week with a few making new contract highs.
  • Bearish: The Choice Boxed Beef Cutout has dropped 8% in the last month.
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The Cattle Range 10-Day Market Trend:
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An indicator of overall cattle market strength.
The angle indicates direction & velocity of the trend.
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The Trendline is based on daily market factors for the past 10 days.
The daily factors are weighted calculations of the cumulative Gain/(Loss)
of 10 major market factors compared to the previous trading day.
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National Feeder & Stocker Cattle Weekly Summary:
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RECEIPTS:    Auctions    Direct     Video/Internet     Total
This Week     188,600    57,900        55,200        301,700 
Last Week     198,200    76,700         4,700        279,600 
Last Year      228,500    57,500        59,000        345,000
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Compared to last week, feeder cattle and calves sold unevenly steady with the majority of sales ranging from 3.00 higher to 3.00 lower.  Most pressure was seen on heavyweight feeders over 800 lbs and soft new-crop calves that are progressively making up a larger percentage of receipts.  As a whole, offerings are currently less attractive than usual with receipts mostly made up of growing-lot yearlings and fall-born calves, both carrying considerable flesh.  True grass-ready stocker cattle (where available) still brought top billing, but these cattle are getting harder to find with every passing day and are rarely plentiful enough to test the market. 

Perhaps feeder markets have reached the point of topping or even tipping as the word “lower” reared its ugly heady on market reports across the country for the first time in months.  Nationwide auction receipts were 17 percent lighter than a year ago as available supplies are exhausting right in accordance with most buyer needs being met.  However, it would be difficult to call demand any lighter and crowds were reportedly sizeable in the few major auction markets that had a good run this week.  One of these was Torrington, WY, where a package of little 288 lb steer calves brought 3.00/lb and a short load of 699 lb replacement quality heifers sold for 193.00 or about 1350.00 per head. 

Spring weather has finally reached most corners of our nation and pastures are greening up nicely.  Corn planters were rolling across southern edges of the Corn Belt with early-bird farmers gambling an early stand against the threat of rain-out and replanting.  Fed cattle trade was very slow to develop this week with packers facing a short-bought position and lower cut-out values at the same time.  But, many major population areas are finally looking forward to a weekend with favorable grilling conditions which should support dressed beef values.  This week’s reported auction volume included 51 percent over 600 lbs and 43 percent heifers.

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Stocker Steers:
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Feeder Steers:
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Five Year Moving Average - Stocker & Feeder Steers:
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Weekly Auctions...
"Click" on individual auction link for complete report
Oklahoma National Stockyards - Oklahoma City OK...
Actual Receipts: 5283   Last Monday: 8316   Year Ago Monday: 6820
Compared to last week:  Feeder and stocker steers steady to 2.00higher.  Feeder and stocker heifers 2.00-3.00 higher.  Steer and heifer calves mostly steady.  Demand continues to be very good for allclasses.  The state received some moisture over the weekend with the majority of the rain falling in the south and southeast.  Much of Western Oklahoma remains extremely dry.

Joplin Regional Stockyards Feeder Cattle Wtd Avg - Carthage MO...
Receipts:  5473    Last Week:  6368    Year Ago:  10082
Compared to last week, steer calves under 550 lbs and heifer calves under 450 lbs steady to 3.00 lower, heavier weight calves and yearling steers steadyto 2.00 higher, yearling heifers steady.

Tri-State Livestock Auction Market - McCook NE...
Receipts:  1200    Last Week:  1500    Year Ago:  1300
Not enough to show comparison to last week. Steers accounted for 47 percent and heifers 53 percent of the offering today.  Demand was moderate to good on all weights.

Sioux Falls Regional Livestock wtd Avg Report - Worthing SD...
Receipts:  2908    Last Week:  2408    Year Ago:  4797
Compared to last week:  Feeder steers under 900 lbs 2.00 to 4.00 higher, except 700-750 lbs 10.00 higher, over 900 mostly steady.  Feeder heifers steady to 2.00 higher.

West Plains Feeder Cattle Auction - West Plains MO...
Receipts:  1774    Last week:  2523    Year Ago:  4150
Compared to last week, the bulk of the feeder steers and heifers traded steady to 3.00 higher.  Yearling steers and heifers were not well tested.

Winter Livestock - La Junta CO...
Receipts:  1120    Last Week:  4795    Year Ago:  2010
Compared with last Tuesday: Feeder steers and heifers in a light test mostly steady on the kind offered. Slaughter cows and bulls 2.00 to 3.00 lower. Demand moderate to good.

El Reno Cattle Narrative - El Reno OK...
Receipts:  3674    Last Week:  4485    Year Ago:  3812
Compared to last week:  Feeder steers and heifers mostly steady.  No trend available for calves due to light receipts.  Demand moderateto good for all classes.  Quality average to attractive.  Drought likeconditions continue across most parts of the state but are worst in Western Oklahoma.

Clovis Livestock Auction - Clovis NM...
Receipts:  1338              Week Ago:  2127         Year Ago:  3347
Compared to last week:  Feeder and stocker steers 1.00-4.00 lower, instances 5.00 lower on 500-600 lbs except 300-400 lbs 4.00 higher.  Heifers under 600 lbs 2.00-3.00 higher, 600-700 lbs 4.00 lower and 800-900 lbs steady.  Slaughter cows and bulls steady to 1.00 higher.

Huss Platte Valley Auction - Kearney NE...
Receipts:  3800    Two Weeks Ago:  4200    Year Ago:  1920
Compared to two weeks ago, steers and heifers sold unevenly steady. Demand was good from start to finish from a large crowd of buyers.

West Fargo Feeder Cattle Wtd Avg - West Fargo ND...
Receipts:  1687    Last Week:  N/A    Year Ago:  N/A
No recent comparables for a meaningful trend comparison. Demand remained strong for all classes as buyers seek to buy the dwindling supply of feeders.

Kist Livestock Wtd Avg Report - Mandan ND...
Receipts:  1218    Last Week:  0    Year Ago:  2133
Compared to the last reported sale two weeks ago there were not enough feeder steers and heifers to report an accurate trend this week.

Clovis Livestock Auction - Clovis NM...
Receipts:  1338              Week Ago:  2127         Year Ago:  3347
Compared to last week:  Feeder and stocker steers 1.00-4.00 lower, instances 5.00 lower on 500-600 lbs except 300-400 lbs 4.00 higher.  Heifers under 600 lbs 2.00-3.00 higher, 600-700 lbs 4.00 lower and 800-900 lbs steady.  Slaughter cows and bulls steady to 1.00 higher.

San Angelo Cattle And Calf Auction - San Angelo TX
Total Receipts:  905    Last Week:  651    Year Ago:  858
Compared to last week feeder steers and heifers firm to 2.00 higher.  Slaughter cows weak; slaughter bulls firm.  Stock cows and pairs steady.

Valentine Livestock Auction Market - Valentine NE
Receipts:  2780    Last Week:  0    Year Ago:  0
No recent test of market for an accurate comparison a trend will not be given.

Pratt Livestock Feeder Cattle Auction - Pratt, KS
Receipts:  4077    Last Week:  6739    Year Ago:  4516
Compared to last week: Feeder Steers 750-900 lbs steady to 3.00 higher, best demand for steers from 825-875 lbs. 900-1000 lbs in a limited supply 3.00-5.00 lower; Feeder Heifers compared with last weeks major advance steady to 3.00 lower in a limited supply; Steers and heifers of any weight class suited for a grazing program brought premium prices, with excellent demand. Slaughter cows steady to firm, bulls firm to 3.00 higher.

Denison Wtd Avg Feeder Cattle Auction - Denison IA
Receipts:  2560    Two Weeks Ago:  1979
Compared to two weeks ago, Steers 500 to 800 lbs were mostly steady and 800 to 900 lbs were 10.00 higher. Heifers 450 to 700 lbs were 6.00 to 10.00 higher and 700 to 850 lbs were steady to 4.00 higher.

Mitchell Livestock Wtd Avg Report - Mitchell SD
Receipts:  4975    Week Ago:  2145    Year Ago:  Not Reported
Compared to last week: Feeder steers under 700 lbs not well tested last week to allow a good comparison, 700-900 lbs steady to instances of 2.00 higher, over 900 lbs 2.00 to 3.00 lower with instances to 4.00 lower.  Feeder heifers under 700 lbs not well tested last week, 700-900 lbs mostly steady, over 900 lbs not tested last week.

Tennessee Weekly Auction Summary
Receipts on 12 TN Auctions 6,976 12 Last Week 7,600 11 Last Year 9,200
Trends:  According to the Federal-State Market News Service, comparedto the same sales one week ago, slaughter cows mostly steady. Slaughterbulls 1.00 lower.  Steers/bulls under 550 lbs 1.00 to 4.00 higher, over 550 lbs steady to 1.00 lower. Heifers 1.00 to 4.00 higher.

Mississippi Weekly Livestock Summary
Percent of supply:              This Week     Last Week     Year Ago
Compared to last week, slaughter cows sold 1.00 to 2.00 lower and bulls sold 1.00 to 5.00 lower. Feeder steers and heifers sold steady.

Alabama Auctions Weekly Summary
Alabama livestock auctions for the week ending April 12, 2014.
Total estimated receipts this week 7,800, last week 11,274 and 11,313 last year. Compared to last week: Slaughter cows and bulls sold steady to 2.00 lower. Replacement cows and pairs sold mostly steady. All feeder classes sold 1.00 to 4.00 higher.

Georgia Cattle Auctions Weekly Review
Cattle receipts at 25 markets 7,611 compared to 8,824 last week and 9,086 year ago. Compared to one week earlier, slaughter cows steady to 3.00 lower, bulls 2.00 to 3.00 lower, feeder steers and bulls steady
to 2.00 higher, heifers steady to 3.00 higher, steer calves and bull calves unevenly steady, heifer calves steady to 3.00 higher, replacement cows mostly steady.

North Carolina wtd Avg Cattle Summary
Cattle Receipts:  6503          Last Week:  7182          Last Year:  6194
Compared to last week, slaughter cows were mostly 2.00 lower, bulls steady to 3.00 higher. Feeder cattle were mostly 4.00 to 9.00 higher.

AZ-CA-NV Weekly Feeder Cattle Review
Confirmed: 1520
Compared to last week, Trade slow, demand moderate.  A few head of medium and large 1&2 steers and heifers traded.

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Cattle Futures:
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Talk of steady cash quotes boosted cattle futures Friday. Ongoing wholesale losses seemingly presaged a drop in cash cattle prices this week, thereby depressing CME futures. However, the Chicago market turned higher in response to news of a few cattle trading at steady prices this morning. June cattle futures climbed 0.57 cents to 135.77 cents/pound in late Friday action, while December skidded 0.22 to 140.17. Meanwhile, May feeder cattle advanced 0.40 cents to 180.07 cents/pound, and August jumped 0.55 to 182.47.
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Representative Sales of Cow & Pairs:
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  • Woodward, OK
    • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2  4-8 yrs 1250-1350 lbs 3-8 months 1350.00-1625.00, few up to 1710.00. 
    • Pairs:  Medium and Large 1  2-8 yrs 975-1400 lbs w/100-500 lb calves 2100.00-2400.00, several 2625.00-2800.00.  Medium and Large 1-2 2-7 yrs 800-1300 lbs w/100-400 lb calves 1825.00-2000.00. 
  • El Reno, OK
    • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2  2-8 yrs 1025-1100 lbs 5-8 months 1525.00-1925.00; 2-10 yrs 900-1350 lbs 3-8 months 1100.00-1450.00. 
    • Pairs:  Medium and Large 1-2  2-8 yrs 975-1175 lbs w/75-150 lb calves 1800.00-2000.00; 4-6 yrs 900-1000 lbs w/50-250 lb calves 1500.00-1750.00. 
  • Oklahoma City, OK
    • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2  2-6 yrs 980-1500 lbs 4-7 months 1525.00-1950.00; 4-10 yrs 950-1400 lbs 3-7 months 1100.00-1425.00.
    • Pairs:  Medium and Large 1-2  2-8 yrs 900-1000 lbs w/80-200 lb calves 1550.00-1960.00.
  • Joplin, MO
    • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2  2 yrs to short solid 950-1350 lbs 2nd-3rd stage 1650.00-2100.00, few 1375.00-1550.00, 1st stage 1000-1125 lbs 1375.00-1650.00; broken mouth to aged 3rd stage 1075-1295 lbs 1140.00-1350.00.  Large 1-2  6 yrs to short solid mouth 2nd-3rd stage 1390-1750 lbs 1425.00-1735.00.  Medium and Large 2  5-6 yrs 1st-2nd stage 1100-1165 lbs 1300.00-1365.00; 5 yrs to short solid mouth 2nd-3rd stage 960-995 lbs 1250.00-1300.00. 
    • Pairs:  Medium and Large 1-2  4-7 yrs 1085-1320 lbs w/baby to 200 lb calves 1800.00-2475.00; short solid mouth to aged 1075-1300 lbs w/baby to 140 lb calves 1500.00-1600.00.
  • Springfield, MO
    • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2  2 yrs pkg 1050 lbs 3rd stage 2125.00; 5 yrs to short solid mouth 2nd-3rd stage 1160-1265 lbs 1385.00-1550.00, 1st stage 850-1245 lbs 1160.00-1475.00; short solid mouth to aged 2nd-3rd stage 1130-1160 lbs 1000.00-1185.00.  Large 1-2  6 yrs to short solid mouth 2nd-3rd stage 1380-1555 lbs 1475.00-1600.00.  Medium and Large 2  3-7 yrs 2nd-3rd stage 1010-1230 lbs 1185.00-1375.00. 
    • Pairs:  Medium and Large 1-2  6 yrs to short solid mouth 1100-1270 lbs w/baby to 335 lb calves 1750.00-1825.00; short solid mouth to aged 1060-1360 lbs w/newborn to 145 lb calves 1350.00-1550.00.  Medium 1-2  3 yrs to short solid mouth 800-1030 lbs w/baby to 400 lb calves 1400.00-1750.00. 
  • West Plains, MO
    • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2  3-7 yrs 1050-1350 lbs 2nd-3rd stage 1675.00-1875.00; 4-7 yrs 975-1095 lbs 1st stage 1250.00-1425.00; short-solid 1060-1335 lbs 2nd-3rd stage 1300.00-1575.00d.  Medium and Large 2  3 yr to short-solid 1030-1495 lbs 2nd-3rd stage 1325.00-1550.00.  Medium 2  5 yr to broken-mouth 820-1035 lbs 2nd-3rd stage 875.00-1100.00.
    • Pairs:  Medium and Large 1-2   4-7 yrs 106o-1215 lbs w/125-150 lb calves 1825.00-2425.00, pkg 10 hd 6 yrs 1055 lbs blk w/125 lb calves 2650.00.  Medium and Large 2   4 yrs to short-solid 775-1130 lbs w/125-250 lb calves 1325.00-1550.00.
  • Loup City, NE
    • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2  Solid mouth 1285-1365 lbs 2nd-3rd stage 1575.00-1600.00; 1st stage 1225 lbs 1380.00; Short Solid Mouth 1st-2nd stage 1235-1340 lbs 1220.00-1285.00; Broken Mouth 2nd stage 1215 lbs 1235.00.
  • Dodge City, KS
    • Pairs:  Medium and Large 1 Young lot 19 hd 1000-1050 lbs w/150-200 lb calves 2300.00-2500.00; 20 hd 900-1000 lbs w/new born calves 2350.00-2400.00; 22 hd 1200-1250 lbs w/150-200 lb calves 2525.00-2635.00. 
  • La Junta, CO
    • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2 Young 1125-1385 lbs Apr-May calvers 1825.00-1900.00, middle age 1215-1355 lbs 1700.00-1750.00;  Aged 1295-1405 lbs 1500.00-1650.00, summer and fall calvers 1170-1285 lbs 1150.00-1250.00, lot short solid mouth summer calvers 1180 lbs 1400.00. 
    • Pairs: Medium and Large 1 Young 850-1100 lbs w/80-150 lb calves 2200.00-2350.00, couple lots 960-1080 lbs w/100-170 lb calves 2550.00, middle age 1175-1275 lbs w/125-200 lb calves 1975.00-2050.00, aged short solid mouth 1200-1275 lbs w/125-175 lb calves 1850.00-1975.00, broken mouth lot 1200 lbs w/125-175 lb calves 1700.00.  Medium and Large 1-2 young 1020-1100 lbs w/50-125 lb calves 1950.00-2010.00.
  • Riverton, WY
    • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2 Heifers 925-1250 lbs 1700.00-1825.00, few 1425.00-1650.00; Young 995-1535 lbs 1800.00-2025.00, few 905-1280 lbs 900.00-1650.00; Middle Aged (Short Solids) 1250-1530 lbs 1650.00-1850.00, 1290-1485 lbs 1400.00-1500.00; Aged (Short Term) 1020-1445 lbs 1400.00-1700.00. 
    • Pairs: Heifers 930-1230 lbs w/95-135 lb calves 2400.00-2525.00; Young 940-1400 lbs w/135-250 lb calves 1900.00-2200.00, pkg 965 lbs w/130 lb calves 1800.00; Middle Aged (Short Solids) 995-1420 lbs w/130-350 lb calves 1825.00-2000.00; Aged (Short Terms) 1085-1440 lbs w/95-200 lb calves 1500.00-1900.00, few 1055-1340 lbs w/75-80 lb calves 925.00-1300.00.
  • Arkansas
    • Bred Cows:  Medium and Large 1-2  2-7 yrs 850-1250 lbs 2nd-3rd stage 130.00-140.00 cwt, 1350.00-1450.00; first stage/open 102.00-112.00cwt, 7-10 yrs 850-1200 lbs 2nd-3rd stage 100.00-110.00 cwt, 1200.00-1300.00. 
    • Pairs:  Medium and Large 1-2  3-7 yrs 800-1200 lbs w/100-200 lb calves 1600.00-1700.00, few to 2290.00; w/200-300 lb calves 1900.00-2000.00; 7-10 yrs w/100-200 lb calves 1300.00-1400.00.  Small 1 and Medium 2  7+ yrs 750-900 lbs w/100-200 lb calves 1125.00-1225.00. 
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The average prices above are from USDA market reports from 2 Southeast markets, 2 Midwest markets, 2 North Central markets, 2 South Central markets, & 1 Western market.  The reports seldom reference breed or quality.  Prices are rounded to nearest multiple of 5.
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Canadian Cattle:
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Alberta Beef Producers: Alberta direct cattle sales Thursday saw light trade develop with live and dressed sales reported anywhere from steady to 2.00 lower than last week. US packer interest was observed and light volumes of western Canadian fed cattle did trade South at a premium over local sales. Showlist volumes have generally been cleaned up.
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Canadian Weekly Cattle Report:
Provided by CanFax

Fed prices stronger

  • Weighted average steer prices were $145.32 per hundredweight in light trade, down 25 cents, and heifers were $146.79, up $2.
  • There was some U.S. buyer interest, but significant trade did not develop.
  • The cash to futures basis narrowed $2 to -$14.52. Total sale volume fell 21 percent to 7,727 head.
  • Weekly western Canadian fed slaughter to March 29 fell 10 percent to 35,288 head.
  • Weekly Canadian fed exports to March 22 rose 19 percent to 11,891 head. The week’s offering included pen cleanups of varying cattle types and quality.
  • Recently, marketed carcass weights were lighter than anticipated, and slaughter summaries indicate cattle should now be staying on feed longer.
  • Prices will likely edge lower on a seasonal trend.
Cows post records
  • Record highs were set for all classes of non-fed cattle as butcher cows and bulls traded $1-$3 stronger on tight supply.
  • Western Canadian slaughter volumes have fallen to 5,800 per week from 7,200 over the past month.
  • Seasonal highs tend to be set in mid-April.
  • D1, D2 cows traded in a range of $97-$115 to average $105.42.
  • D3 cows ranged $80-$102 to average $91.75.
  • Rail grade cows were $200-$205.
Feeders stronger
  • The market saw strong local, eastern and U.S. demand, which supported prices.
  • The April Chicago feeder contract traded within 200 points of the contract high.Bullishness in the feeder complex is mostly supply driven.
  • Feeder procurement strategies now favour lighter cattle because of cheaper feed grains, compared to last year when the market favoured heavier cattle.
  • Barley prices are down 35 percent from last year, improving the economics of cattle feeding.
  • Feedlots are bidding aggressively against grass buyers to procure mid-weight stockers.
  • Alberta average steer prices are trading at a slight premium over Sask-atchewan and Manitoba, except for 400-600 pound heifers.
  • The eastern Prairies are closer to the Nebraska market, and these light stocker heifers could be going south.
  • Weekly feeder exports to March 22 were 17,107 head, the most since September 2008.
  • There appears to be little risk for sellers in forward pricing cattle into May. May is fetching a premium over current cash prices.
  • Prices next week might be a little lower because of the strength in the loonie and a decline in Chicago feeders late in the week.
  • Bred cows were $1,350-$1,925 last week, while bred heifers were $1,275-$1,900 and cow-calf pairs were $1,700-$2,750.
Beef prices down
  • U.S. Choice fell $7.30 US last week to $231.95 per cwt., and Select fell $9.80 to $221.41.
  • Canadian data has fallen behind.
  • Canadian cut-out values for the week ending March 21 were mixed with AAA down $1.42 Cdn per cwt. at $237.19 and AA was up 82 cents at $240.71.
  • Warmer weather in Western Canada is expected to support middle meat prices, which could help narrow the AAA-Choice spread when combined with lower U.S. prices.
  • Montreal wholesale prices for delivery this week were steady at $262-$264 per cwt.
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Canadian Cattle Prices:
Prices have been converted to U.S. $/CWT.  Grades changed to approximate U.S. equivalents
Exchange Rate: Canadian dollar equivalent to $0.9175 U.S. dollars
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Prices for the week ending April 4th:
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Rabobank Report -- Global Beef Industry Q1 2014:
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Chinese Market to Lead Continued Strong Global Demand for Beef

Rabobank has published a new report on the global beef industry, forecasting continued strong market fundamentals and continued strong global demand led by the Chinese market.

“Prospects for the global beef industry remains positive in Q2, with further possible upside due to continuing pressured beef supply and scarce supply of competing proteins which will continue to impact competitive positions”

In the report, Rabobank’s Food & Agribusiness Research team says that beef market fundamentals remain positive, with prices driven up across the globe in Q1 2014 by firm demand as well as further tightening supply due to drought-induced herd retention in the U.S. and adverse weather conditions in Brazil and Australia – the three main beef exporters. Combined with fluctuating exchange rates, these events have impacted competitive positions in export markets, with Brazil and Australia gaining export share in Q1 at the expense of the U.S.

The bank says that, on the demand side, beef demand growth will continue to come mainly from China. Although 2014 imports in China are not expected to reach the growth levels experienced in 2013, they will grow as Chinese farmers take little interest in government-supported production expansion and strong profits, and the market opening for Australian chilled fresh beef products. Chinese market opening to Brazilian beef may happen imminently.

“Prospects for the global beef industry remains positive in Q2, with further possible upside due to continuing pressured beef supply and scarce supply of competing proteins which will continue to impact competitive positions,” explained Rabobank analyst Albert Vernooij. “Brazilian cattle prices and exports have surged to record levels, and Australian droughts have encouraged historically high slaughter levels to meet global demand.”

Regional Outlooks:

  • U.S.: Volatility was the biggest factor impacting the U.S. cattle complex in Q1 2014. The impact on the hog market due to the rapid spread of PEDv will be the wildcard in the coming months. The shortage in hog slaughter could have a significant impact on total meat supplies, strengthening beef demand during the spring grilling season and into summer.
  • Australia: Poor climate conditions are keeping slaughter levels historically high, but strong international demand has supported record boxed beef exports in Q1. The latest seasonal outlook predicts a drier-than-normal period for Queensland and northern NSW and a continued high flow of cattle to markets is expected.
  • Brazil: Expected continued strong demand, both domestic and export, will result in firm cattle prices in Q2 2014 and likely beyond, even in periods of strong supply. Domestic demand is likely to increase on the back of the World Cup and presidential elections, while exports will be driven by the continued depreciation of the U.S. dollar.
  • New Zealand: Export prospects are positive with strong demand likely from the U.S. and China. However, the relatively high New Zealand dollar continues to put downward pressure on returns, eroding international competitiveness.
  • Canada: The long and extreme winter has been taxing, forcing increased feed usage. This escalation, in conjunction with cattle shipments to the U.S., means Canada is rapidly going through their available cattle supply with limited interest in herd expansion.
  • Argentina: Exports are expected to remain low as government limitations on export markets continue, with the aim of keeping domestic meat prices low.
  • China: Ongoing shortages in the domestic market will continue to support rising imports of frozen beef, with Australia remaining the biggest supplier accounting for 53% of total import volume in 2013.
  • Mexico: Mexico’s beef sector will continue operating under tight margins into Q2 2014 as beef and cattle prices remain high and lackluster consumption continues.
  • EU: With EU markets more or less in equilibrium, beef prices are expected to hold firm at their current levels. Supply of cattle will remain stable while import growth will continue its steady increase of about 10%.
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2014 El Niño:
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El Niño is a growing threat this year that could play havoc with weather patterns in the United States, forecasters say. El Niño, named for the warm waters that occasionally occur in the Pacific Ocean near South America, brings fluctuating weather that includes droughts, flooding and heat waves. “We have above-normal temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean and that often precedes an El Niño because there’s a large volume of above-average water temperature below the surface of the ocean,” Anthony Barnston, chief forecaster for the International Research Institute for Climate and Society, told ABC 

“That’s the uncertainty,” Barnston said. “It’s more likely to rise than not.”

Some of the larger El Niños in the past have resulted in flooding and landslides in southern and central California, he added.

Barnston notes a 70 percent probability of the United States’ experiencing an El Niño this year. He said the official outlook will be coming Thursday from the two agencies -- his research institute and the Climate Prediction Center -- and will most likely give a slightly lower probability of an El Niño event.  An El Niño affects the climate in certain seasons around the globe. Although they don’t necessarily mean drastic climate fluctuations, they are fairly reliable predictors, Barnston said. If an El Niño persists, Barnston said, it will develop between April and June and last until the start of the next calendar year for a nine-to-10 month cycle.

The warmth below the surface is a result of a Kelvin wave that was kicked up last month by westerly wind events in the western tropical Pacific, Barnston said in a climate forecast briefing last month.  ABC News Meteorologist Melissa Griffin says the pending El Niño could be strong enough to make 2014 the globally warmest year on record, with 2015 possibly even warmer.

But there’s some good news in the event of an El Niño.

For the U.S. West Coast, California could be relieved from its extreme drought with a typically wetter-than-average season. Any rainfall would also extend along Southern California through Texas and all the way to Florida, Barnston said. But it could possibly also bring too much rain and cause flooding and mudslides. The opposite effect could occur in the northwestern parts of the United States.  For the East Coast, the Atlantic Hurricane season may be less active during an El Niño, which alters the formation of hurricane winds, Barnston said.

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Gasoline Prices Expected to Average Over $3.50:
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In the April 2014 Short-Term Energy Outlook (STEO), U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) projects that regular-grade gasoline retail prices will average $3.57 per gallon (gal) during the current summer (April through September) driving season, similar to the $3.58/gal average of summer 2013. After rising into May, the retail price is expected to fall through the remainder of the summer because both crude oil prices and gasoline crack spreads (the difference between wholesale product price and the price of crude oil) decline. Daily and weekly national average prices can differ significantly from monthly and seasonal averages, and there are also significant regional differences, with prices in some areas exceeding the national average by 25 cents/gal or more.

On April 7, the national average regular-grade gasoline retail price stood at $3.60/gal. Most of the expected increase from the current price over the next several weeks is attributable to an increase in crack spreads as a result of typical seasonal factors such as refinery maintenance and the switch to summer-grade gasoline, which is more costly to produce than winter-grade gasoline. Gasoline crack spreads are expected to average 44 cents/gal in May, up from an average of 15 cents/gal during the first quarter.

Retail prices are expected to gradually decline after May to an average of $3.46/gal in September. The largest driver of the expected decline is falling gasoline crack spreads, which are expected to decline to an average of 29 cents/gal in September. The expected decrease in crack spreads results from a projected increase in crude oil throughput at refineries, which add supplies to the market, along with easing seasonal demand increases as the summer progresses. North Sea Brent crude oil prices are projected to fall from a March average of $107 per barrel (bbl) to a May average of $105/bbl and a September average of $103/bbl. The May-to-September crude oil price drop contributes almost 5 cents/gal to the projected decline in gasoline prices.

The market's expectation of uncertainty in monthly average gasoline prices is reflected in the pricing and implied volatility of futures and options contracts. Futures contracts for New York Harbor reformulated blendstock for oxygenate blending (RBOB, a key petroleum component of finished gasoline) for July 2014 delivery traded over the five-day period ending April 3 averaged $2.85/gal. The probability that the RBOB futures price will exceed $3.35/gal (consistent with a U.S. average regular gasoline retail price above $4.00/gal) in July 2014 is about 3%.

Gasoline prices mostly higher, diesel fuel prices lower
Average U.S. regular gasoline prices increased two cents from last week to $3.60 per gallon as of April 7, 2014, a penny less than a year ago. The Gulf Coast had the largest price increase, rising five cents to $3.39 per gallon, followed by the West Coast with an increase of three cents to $3.88 per gallon. East Coast prices increased by two cents to $3.58 per gallon. The Midwest price decreased by a penny to $3.58 per gallon, while the Rocky Mountain price decreased by half a cent, but remained at $3.45 per gallon.

U.S. diesel fuel prices decreased in all regions to average $3.96 per gallon, down two cents from last week and from the same time last year. The East Coast, Rocky Mountains and Midwest each fell by two cents, to $4.08, $3.96 and $3.94 per gallon respectively. The Gulf Coast and West Coast prices each decreased by a penny, to $3.79 and $3.98 per gallon respectively.

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Photo of the Week:
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  • 173 Angus Bred Heifers... Northeast KS*
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    Shootin' the Bull Weekly Analysis:

    In my opinion, the spread between cash and futures remains so wide that risk of participation from a hedge standpoint is perceived to have elevated risks.  The volatility in such a tight range has caused a great deal to move from this market.  Feedlots are perceived to have interest in selling deferred contract months as such a discount and packers are not perceived interested in purchasing futures as supply increases through the 2nd quarter of this year.  So, there is not much that I can see to do in the fat market.  The wide spread is anticipated to make for exceptional volatility.

    The feeder cattle continued to move higher this week with a few making new contract highs.  The open interest in feeder cattle has fallen off from last week.  Although new highs have been made, they have so far been very minor from one high to the next.  The deep downward swings appears to make it look as if the moves are more.  I continue to advocate buying put options to maintain a minimum price floor under production.  My strategy is to continue to market inventory at the highest prices available today as these prices may, or may not be available in the future through options on futures contracts.  There will always be grumbling after the fact if premiums are lost.  This is a strange phenomenon to me as losing the option premium suggests that the price of the product has been able to sustain current level or potentially improve further.  It is seldom that at the termination of a car insurance policy that the buyer berates having paid the premium.  No one wants to have to go through the inconvenience or potential harm an accident may cause.  In my opinion, no livestock producer wants to have to explain to their lender why they didn't use some type of price protection. 

    Corn settled a little lower this week from new rally highs made on Wednesday.  I continue to anticipate corn to move some higher.  However, if a new high in the December contract were to materialize, I will begin to view that as an opportunity to lock in a portion of new crop sales. 

    Christopher B. Swift is a commodity broker and consultant with Swift Trading Company in Nashville, TN. Mr. Swift authors the daily commentaries "mid day cattle comment" and "Shootin' the Bull" commentary found on his website @ www.shootinthebull.com

    An investment in futures contracts is speculative, involves a high degree of risk and is suitable only for persons who can assume the risk of loss in excess of their margin deposits.  You should carefully consider whether futures trading is appropriate for you in light of your investment experience, trading objectives, financial resources and other relevant circumstances. PAST PERFORMANCE IS NOT NECESSARILY INDICATIVE OF FUTURE RESULTS.

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    The Saga of Bart -- Trials & Tribulations of a Cattle Buyer
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    Out of the blue, an old girlfriend Bart hadn't seen for years called him. 

    After they had visited a while, she said, "I'd love to see you, Bart.  Do you ever get down this way anymore?"

    "Well, darlin', you're in luck," Bart purred, "I have to look at some cattle down that way next week.  But you have to realize I'm a little grayer than the last time you saw me and I've put on about 15 pounds."

    With a girlish laugh, she said, "That's not so bad.  I've gained a lot more than that."

    Bart hung up the phone.

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    Submit a "Bart Joke"  If we use it, you'll receive a $25.00 Gift Certificate to The Cattle Range Mercantile.
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    Japan May Cut U.S. Beef Tariffs in Crucial Trade Talks:
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    Japan is considering slashing tariffs on U.S. beef imports to less than 10 percent from the current 38.5 percent in negotiations aimed at laying the ground for a broad Pacific trade pact, reports Reuters. The proposed cut would be much deeper than one negotiated with Australia, which on Monday agreed to a trade deal with Tokyo including a halving of the levy on frozen beef to 19.5 percent.

    Japan and the U.S. are seeking a two-way trade deal, regarded as a key part of the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), before President Obama travels to Japan for an April 24-25 state visit. Japanese and U.S. trade officials returned to the negotiating table on Thursday, following more than 10 hours of intense talks the day before in which they made some progress, but remain apart on some major issues.

    U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said on arrival in Japan that the U.S.-led TPP, which aims to scrap all tariffs, aimed for a higher standard than the Japan-Australia deal, particularly on beef.

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    EPA and “Waters of the United States":
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    What do you get when you mix a 40-year old law that has been changed multiple times and is in the process of changing again, been challenged by multiple lawsuits, and is riddled with unclear definitions and a general uncertainty regarding the rules of the game? The current state of affairs surrounding the definition of “waters of the United States” under the Clean Water Act, and thus, the expanse of the Environmental Protection Agency’s and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ jurisdiction over water in this country.

    With a proposed rule that could result in jurisdiction expanding to isolated waters, including some ditches, farm and stock ponds and desert washes to name a few, this is an issue that has captured the attention of farm and ranch groups as well as key lawmakers across the country.

    More clarity or more confusion?

    The proposed rule has farmers and ranchers across the country sounding the alarm because they say the draft proposed rule would result in them needing EPA permits for everyday ranching practices and would threaten their private property rights. Lawmakers have also weighed in on the issue, including Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, when he recently said this rule “could be the largest expansion ever of EPA’s authority to regulate private property.”

    Joe Guild, who manages and helps manage several ranches in Nevada and also is an attorney, calls the proposed rule a “sea change” and says all involved in agriculture should be worried. “If you give EPA jurisdiction over all waters of the United States, you have basically given them the ability to go on to a ranch and regulate waters like vernal pool in California that only has water in it two weeks out of the year. When EPA can regulate irrigation water going to sugar cane fields in Florida and an ephemeral stream in Nevada, then all of the sudden, the federal government has jurisdiction over not just the water but also the land use. And I don’t want that to happen on the ranches with which I’m associated.”

    Guild is not alone is his concern regarding land use. In fact, Justice Scalia said in his opinion in the Rapanos case that “In applying the definition to ‘ephemeral streams,’ ‘wet meadows,’ ‘storm sewers and culverts,’ ‘directional sheet flowing during storm events,’ drain tiles, made-made drainage ditches and dry arroyos in the middle of the desert, the Corps has stretched the term ‘waters of the United States’ beyond parody. The plain language of the statute simply does not authorize this “Land is Waters” approach to federal jurisdiction.”

    EPA, however, says the proposed rule will simply provide “greater consistency, certainty and predictability nationwide by providing clarity where the Clean Water Act applies.” EPA also says the proposed rule takes into consideration the latest peer-reviewed science, which happens to be in draft form still, and does not propose changes to “existing regulatory exemptions and exclusions,” including exemptions for established farming and ranching activities, agricultural stormwater discharges; return flows from irrigated agriculture; upland soil and water conservation practices; maintaining and constructing farm ponds and irrigation ditches, maintaining (but not constructing) drainage ditches; maintaining structures like dams, dikes and levees, etc. According to EPA, the proposed rule clarifies that under the CWA, most seasonal and rain-dependent streams are protected; wetlands near rivers and streams are protected; and other waters that may have more “uncertain” connections with downstream water will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis to determine whether the connection is significant or not.

    Much like the confusion surrounding the definition of jurisdictional waters, NCBA Environmental Counsel Ashley McDonald says the proposed rule would result in even greater confusion surrounding many of the current agricultural exemptions. She also says it would extend EPA and the Corps’ jurisdiction to additional categories of waters, including a category that include all waters in a floodplain, and add ditches in the definition of a tributary. “As a category, if you have farmland in a floodplain and you have a ditch or depression that’s filled with water that’s isolated and does not touch other waters – that’s a ‘water of the United States.’ Automatically. No analysis needed. Administratively, that’s very convenient for them. Unfortunately, I don’t think that’s the kind of clarity landowners were looking for when the called for clarity.”

    With regard to the definition of tributaries, Guild says it’s not that hard. He said one can look at the words significant nexus and build a definition, noting that significant means big, important or impactful, and citing Justice Scalia’s description of nexus as abutting. “So an important abutment to a water of the United States. If there is a stream that flows into a stream that flows into the Missouri River, there’s a significant nexus. If there’s an irrigation ditch in North Dakota that has water in it sometimes, is that a tributary of the Missouri River? No - it’s not.”

    Drovers/CattleNetwork

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    Margin between the Choice Boxed Beef Cutout & Feeder Steers:
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    5 Year Average: $46.00 --- This Week: $43.82
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    Out of Kilter:
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    A good way to determine if something is, “going on” in a market is by noticing when market relationships are out of kilter. Cattle and grains typically have a positive correlation. They tend to move in tandem. Moderately increase the price of corn and the cattle will follow suit. The opposite is also true as the cost of feed declines, so does the cost of production. However, when this relationship breaks down, its because one market can't keep pace or pass on the costs of the other. 

    That is what occurred in the spring of 2012 with cattle and corn. The price of feed exceeded the livestock market's ability to pass on the costs.  Over the summer months, the gap was erased and corn went "Out of Kilter" last fall but a correction appears to be underway.

    Normally, the value of 25 bushels of corn is approximately equal to the price per cwt. for feeder steers.

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    5 Year Moving Average:
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    Crude/Cattle Correlation:
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    The chart below shows a fairly consistent correlation between the price for a barrel of crude oil and the per cwt. price for slaughter cattle.  Since it is unlikely the price of cattle affects the price of oil on the world market, it might be assumed the price of crude oil affects the price of cattle, but that is unlikely as well.  It is more likely that economic factors affecting demand for crude oil have a similar effect on demand for beef.

    Accordingly, in the absence of geo/political events disrupting or distorting oil supply, since price trends occur slightly sooner in the crude oil market, crude oil has been a good indicator of the direction of near term cattle prices. However, with increased supplies of crude oil and decreased supplies of slaughter cattle, an "Out of Kilter" situation between the two commodities has developed.

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    5 Year Moving Average:
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    Slaughter Cows & Bulls:
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    Slaughter cows and bulls mostly steady.  Packer demand remains good.

    USDA's Cutter cow carcass cut-out value Friday morning was 199.75 -- Up 2.03 from last Friday.

                 %Lean     Weight         Wyoming       Oklahoma         Alabama 
    Breakers  75-80%     1100-1600          87.50         106.00-113.00     95.00-100.00
    Boners     80-85%     1000-1450     85.00-93.50     105.00-111.50     96.00-102.00
    Lean        85-90%     1000-1300     84.00-92.00      94.00-101.25     85.00-90.00
    Bulls        88-92%     1300-2100     97.00-109.00    120.00-127.00   112.00-118.00

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    Weekly Hay Reports: "Click" on links for detailed report
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    Weekly Feedstuffs Market Review:
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    The USDA Market News Service reports feed ingredient prices for the week ending April 08, were mixed. Soybean Meal was mixed 2.60 lower to 14.60 higher, mostly 4.60 to 11.60 higher. Cottonseed Meal was steady to 15.00 higher, mostly steady to 5.00 higher.  Whole Cottonseed was steady to 20.00 higher.  Canola Meal was 4.60 lower to 2.00 higher.  Linseed Meal was steady in limited trade.  Sunflower Meal was steady.  Crude Soybean Oil was 71 points higher.  Crude Corn Oil was steady. Ruminant Meat and Bone Meal was 45.00 lower to 5.00 higher, mostly 5.00 lower to 5.00 higher.  Ruminant Blood Meal was 75.00 to 200.00 lower.   Feather Meal was 40.00 lower to 15.00 higher, mostly 15.00 lower to 15.00 higher. Menhaden Fishmeal was steady for both FAQ and Select Qualities. Corn Hominy was steady to 2.00 higher. Corn Gluten Feed was steady to 14.00 lower.  Corn Gluten Meal was 5.00 lower to 25.00 higher.  Distillers Dried Grains were 15.00 lower to 15.00 higher, mostly steady to 15.00 higher. Wheat Middlings were 15.00 lower to 5.00 higher.
    • Soybean Meal:
      • Offers of high protein Soybean Meal in Central Illinois were 4.60 to 7.60 lower from 503.10-518.10; Iowa was 2.60 to 4.60 lower from 483.10-493.10; Kansas City was 4.60 lower from 494.10-501.10; Minneapolis was 3.60 to 14.60 lower from 487.10-488.10; St. Louis was 5.00 lower from 509.00-529.00; Memphis was 5.00 lower from 529.30-539.30; Portland was 8.60 to 10.60 lower from 538.10-550.10; BN Santa Fe delivered Chino Valley was 8.60 lower from 542.10-547.10; Union Pacific delivered Chino Valley was 8.60 to 11.60 lower from 542.10-544.10.
    • Cottonseed Meal:
      • Cottonseed Meal FOB the Central San Joaquin Valley in California was steady to 10.00 higher from 405.00-415.00; Kansas City was 5.00 higher at 445.00; St. Louis was steady at 435.00; Memphis was 5.00 to 15.00 higher at 400.00-410.00.
    • Whole Cottonseed: 
      • Whole Cottonseed FOB the Central San Joaquin Valley in California was 1.00 to 5.00 higher from 500.00-511.00; delivered to Portland was steady to 15.00 higher from 500.00-525.00; Memphis was 20.00 higher at 420.00.
    • Yellow Corn Hominy:
      • Yellow Corn Hominy in Central Illinois was not available; Kansas City (Northwest) was steady at 140.00; St. Louis was not available; rail delivered California was 2.00 higher at 232.00. 
    • Corn Gluten:
      • Corn Gluten Feed in the Midwest (IA, IL, IN) was 10.00 to 14.00 lower from 160.00-170.00; Kansas City was steady to 5.00 lower from 210.00-225.00; St. Louis was steady to 10.00 lower from 170.00-190.00. Corn Gluten Meal, 60 percent protein in the Midwest (IA, IL, IN) was steady from 760.00-790.00; Kansas City was 15.00 to 25.00 higher from 

      • 850.00-920.00; St. Louis was steady to 5.00 lower from 800.00-810.00; Memphis was 10.00 higher at 810.00.
    • Distillers Dried Grains:
      • Distillers Dried Grain prices in Eastern Corn-belt were steady to 8.00 higher from 238.00-265.00; Chicago area was steady from 245.00-250.00; Lawrenceburg, IN was not available; Nebraska was 10.00 to 15.00 higher from 230.00-250.00; Minnesota was 5.00 to 10.00 lower from 225.00-240.00; Kansas was 10.00 to 15.00 higher from 250.00-265.00; Iowa was steady from 225.00-255.00; Northern Missouri was 5.00 lower from 235.00-240.00; South Dakota was 15.00 lower to 0.50 higher from 220.00-245.00; St. Louis was steady to 15.00 higher from 255.00-265.00; Wisconsin was 5.00 lower to 5.00 higher from 225.00-250.00; rail delivered California was steady to 15.00 higher from 340.00-345.00.
    • Wheat Middlings:
      • Wheat Middlings in Buffalo, NY was 15.00 lower to 5.00 higher at 135.00; Kansas City was steady to 2.00 higher from 125.00-140.00; Minneapolis was steady to 2.00 higher from 130.00-147.00; St. Louis 2.00 to 10.00 lower from 143.00-155.00; Memphis was steady at 175.00.

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    Est. Weekly Meat Production Under Federal Inspection:
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    Total red meat production under Federal inspection for the week ending Saturday, April 05, 2014 was estimated at 902.1 million lbs. according to the U.S.Department of Agriculture's Marketing Service. This was 0.3 percent lower than a week ago and 0.7 percent lower than a year ago.  Cumulative meat production for the year to date was 3.6 percent lower compared to the previous year.
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    National Sheep Summary:
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    Weekly Trends:  Compared to last week slaughter lambs were mostly steady to 10.00 higher.  Slaughter ewes were mostly steady to 5.00 higher.  Feeder lambs were steady to 10.00 higher.  At San Angelo, TX 4409 head sold in a one day sale.  No sales in Equity Electronic Auction. In direct trading slaughter ewes not tested; feeder lambs were steady. 5700 head of negotiated sales of slaughter lambs were 7.00-9.00 lower and 10,100 head of formula sales of carcasses under 65 lbs were not well tested; 65-75 lbs were 14.00-15.00 lower; 75-85 lbs were 4.00-5.00 lower; 85-95 lbs were 3.00-4.00 lower and over 95 lbs were not well tested. 6,783 lamb carcasses sold with 45 lbs and down 64.64 higher; 45-55 lbs 9.80 higher; 55-65 lbs 2.22 higher; 65-85 lbs .34-.55 higher and 85 lbs and up .03 lower.

    "Click Here" to view this week's prices

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    Bullish/Bearish Consensus:
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    The theory behind the "Bullish/Bearish Consensus" indicator is when the public reaches a consensus, they are usually wrong:
    • They get too bullish after prices have risen, and too bearish after they have already fallen.
    Because of this tendency, there are often extremes in opinion right before major changes in trend:
    • When the public reaches a bullish extreme, i.e., a great majority thinks prices will keep rising, then prices often decline instead. 
    • And when they become too bearish, then prices tend to rise.
    So when Public Opinion moves above the red dotted line in the chart, it means that compared to other readings over the past year, you're seeing a statistically extreme value.  You also want to look at the absolute level of Opinion, too - if it's at 90%, then there's no question we're seeing an historic level of bullish opinion.  Watch for readings above 80% (or especially 90%) to spot those dangerous times when the public is overly enthusiastic about a commodity.

    Conversely, when Public Opinion moves below the green dotted line, then the public is too pessimistic about the commodity's prospects for further gains compared to their opinion over the past year.  Looking for absolute readings under 20% (or especially 10%) often indicates an upturn in the market.

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    Bullish/Bearish Consensus - Cattle
    Last Updated: April 8th
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    Bullish/Bearish Consensus - Corn
    Last Updated: April 8th
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    USDA Raises 2014 Beef Production Forecast:
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    USDA’s latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report shows higher beef production more than offset lower pork, broiler and turkey production. It also showed an increased in 2014 beef production as lower forecast slaughter in the first quarter was more than offset by higher slaughter in the second half.

    The USDA raised its expectations of beef imports in 2013 as demand for processing-grade beef remains strong. The export forecast was raised on continued strong sales to Asian markets. Cattle prices for 2014 have also been raised from the March report, reflecting continued price strength for fed cattle.

    Overall, the 2014 forecast of total red meat and poultry production was lowered. Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus will likely continue to result in lower slaughter during the remainder of the year, and though carcass weights are forecast higher, those gains will be insufficient to offset the record slaughter numbers.

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    National Economic News:
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    Stocks fall sharply as investors turn away from companies with steep valuations

    Stocks suffered their largest weekly decline since January as investors sold companies with especially high valuations and braced themselves for a disappointing corporate earnings season. The technology-heavy Nasdaq Composite proved particularly volatile, declining 3.1% for the week and ending roughly 8.5% below its mid-March peak. The smaller-cap indexes also saw large losses for the week. Despite recent declines, the large-cap indexes ended the week only a few percentage points below their all-time highs—well within the 10% threshold widely considered to denote a market "correction."

    Biotechs reach "bear market" territory

    Continuing a trend that has been in place since late March, investors continued to sell fast-growing, high-valuation "momentum" stocks in favor of defensive stocks with attractive dividends. The selling was particularly intense among biotechnology shares, which were among the market's top performers in 2013. The Nasdaq Biotechnology Index fell into what is considered "bear market" territory, declining by over 20% from its highs as of early Friday.

    Selling was also prevalent among Internet-related stocks, which had been exceptionally strong performers in recent months. Earnings set to decline in first quarter

    The onset of first-quarter earnings reporting season was another source of concern for investors. Aluminum giant Alcoa provided a lift to the markets at midweek after reporting better-than-expected adjusted earnings, but disappointing bank results on Friday dragged the broad indexes lower. Most analysts expect earnings for companies in the Standard & Poor's 500 Index as a whole to decline slightly from the same period last year before rebounding in the second quarter.

    Fed minutes help cushion declines

    The Federal Reserve provided a small cushion for the week's declines in the form of minutes from its last policy meeting. Some investors worried that policymakers had emerged from the meeting encouraged about recent job gains and were ready to raise short-term interest rates earlier than most expected. The minutes indicated that officials remained convinced that labor markets still needed time to heal.  Many analysts believes that the first rate hike is unlikely until the middle of next year.

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    • U.S. wholesale prices rose a seasonally adjusted 0.5% in March, mainly because of higher costs for service providers such as food and clothing retailers, the Labor Department reported Friday. The price of wholesale services jumped 0.7% last month, while the cost of goods were flat. Economists had predicted a 0.1% gain in the PPI. Wholesale food costs increased 1.1% last month, but energy prices sank 1.2%. Excluding the volatile categories of food and energy, core PPI prices rose 0.6% after falling 0.2% in February. Personal consumption, a new index that could foreshadow changes in the consumer price index, rose 0.6% in March. Over the past year producer prices for final demand have risen an unadjusted 1.4%. That's up sharply from 0.9% rate in February and is the highest since last August. Core prices have also climbed 1.4% in the same span.
    • Consumer sentiment rose to a preliminary April reading of 82.6 -- the highest reading since July -- from a final March level of 80, according to a Friday report on a gauge from the University of Michigan and Thomson Reuters. 
    • The number of people who applied for U.S. unemployment benefits last week fell to a nearly seven-year low of 300,000, a sign the labor market might be experiencing a spring revival. Initial claims in the seven days ended April 5 sank by 32,000 from a revised 332,000 in the prior week, the Labor Department said Thursday. The last time claims were that low was in May 2007, six months before the Great Recession began.
    • China’s March trade-account numbers came out Thursday, and it was another weak report. Exports fell 6.6% from a year earlier, slower than the more-than-18% tumble in the previous month, but widely missing a Dow Jones-survey consensus for a 4.2% gain. Imports were even uglier, plunging 11.3% -- more than the 10.1% drop in February -- and trailing far behind an expected 2.8% gain.
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    "Click Here" to view a Slide Show of Drought Monitor maps for the past 12 weeks
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    Looking Ahead:
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    • Over the next 5-7 days, an active weather pattern will take shape over portions of the plains, Midwest, and southeastern United States. Precipitation chances and amounts are greatest over the Midwest, the Ohio River Valley, and portions of the Gulf Coast. Areas of thunderstorms may produce 2-3 inches of rain locally. Precipitation chances are also high over the central to northern Rocky Mountains. Temperatures during this time should be above normal over the western United States, where high temperatures will be up to 12 degrees above normal in the Great Basin and northern California. Normal to slightly below normal high temperatures are expected in the plains and northern plains, respectively, while high temperatures will be above normal over the eastern United States.
    • The 6-10 day outlook continues with the cooler than normal temperature pattern over the eastern half of the United States, with the best chances for below-normal temperatures in the Great Lakes region. The chances for above-normal temperatures will also continue west of the Great Divide and also for southern Florida. The eastern seaboard and the Pacific Northwest are the two areas with the best chances of above-normal precipitation during this time. The Midwest and southwestern United States have the best chances of recording below-normal precipitation during this period.
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    Drug Companies Abandoning Anti-Microbial Feeds:
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    In the last four months, 25 of the 26 pharmaceutical companies that make antibiotics that are important for human health as well as veterinary treatments have agreed to new drug labels prohibiting their use for growth promotion in livestock. These drugs will have to be prescribed by a veterinarian instead of being sold over the counter.  These new rules may ease concerns that the use of these antibiotics for growth promotion in livestock is contributing to the development of resistant bacteria.
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    Feedyard Closeouts: Profit/(Loss)
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    • Typical closeout for steers sold this week & hedged when placed on feed: ($53.77)
    • Typical closeout for un-hedged steers sold this week: $141.98
    • Projected closeout based on the futures & estimated Cost of Gain for steers placed on feed this week: ($137.73)
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    Slaughter Cattle:
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    Friday negotiated cash trade was limited on light demand in Nebraska and the Western Cornbelt. Trade was at a standstill in the Southern Plains and Colorado. Not enough sales in any feeding region for an adequate market test. The latest established market was last week with live sales at 148.00 in the Southern Plains. In Nebraska live sales sold from 150.00-151.50 and dressed sales sold mostly at 240.00. In Colorado live sales sold from 151.00-151.50. In the Western Cornbelt live sales sold at 150.00 and dressed sales sold from 239.00-240.00.

    It looks like cash cattle and futures have put in a seasonal high. Cattle are expected to trade lower this week, down from $148-$150 per cwt last week and highs two weeks ago in the $152-$154 range. Sharply lower beef prices are leading the decline. The cutouts are down $20 per cwt from their March peak. 

    Fed cattle supplies are turning seasonally higher and will get an added boost from larger placements last fall and early winter. However, feedlots have remained current with marketings through winter and early spring compared with a year ago. Therefore, fed supplies are expected to track below 2013 over the next few months. How current feedlots stay will be important in determining the extent and timing of the expected summer low. If feedlots delay cattle sales in anticipation of higher prices by late summer, it could prolong the summer price weakness.
     
    Livestock Slaughter under Federal Inspection:
                                             CATTLE     CALVES  HOGS       SHEEP
    Friday 04/11/2014        (est)   102,000     3,000     370,000     8,000
    Week ago (est)                      105,000     3,000     372,000     6,000
    Year ago (act)                       115,000     3,000     392,000     6,000
    Week to date (est)                 562,000    13,000   1,997,000    44,000
    Same Period Last Week (est)  572,000    13,000   2,007,000    38,000
    Same Period Last Year (act)    596,000    14,000   2,012,000    38,000

    Saturday 04/12/2014      (est)   11,000         0          23,000     2,000
    Week ago (est)                        11,000         0          23,000     2,000
    Year ago (act)                          11,000         0          67,000         0
    Week to date (est)                  573,000    13,000   2,020,000    46,000
    Same Period Last Week (est)   583,000    13,000   2,030,000    40,000
    Same Period Last Year* (act)  607,000    13,000   2,078,000    38,000
    2014 Year to Date                8,288,000   189,000  30,601,000   574,000
    2013 *Year to Date              8,848,000   217,000  31,832,000   573,000
    Percent change                     -6.3%      -12.7%       -3.9%       0.2%

    Negotiated prices paid for Slaughter Steers and Heifers:

    Live basis:            Steers                              Heifers
    Over 80% Choice    151.00-151.00 avg 151.00   149.00-149.00 avg 149.00
    65 - 80% Choice     147.00-147.00 avg 147.00         - 
    35 - 65% Choice            -                                      - 
    0 - 35% Choice             -                                       - 
    Total all grades    147.00-151.00 avg 149.58   149.00-149.00 avg 149.00

    Dressed basis
    Over 80% Choice            -                                     - 
    65 - 80% Choice     237.00-237.00 avg 237.00         - 
    35 - 65% Choice            -                                      - 
    0 - 35% Choice             -                                       - 
    Total all grades    37.00-237.00 avg 237.00           - 

     

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    National Grain Summary:
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    Grains closed lower to end the week, as soybeans closed with sharp losses on softening demand worries with China, despite tight supplies.  Corn and wheat had light to modest losses on light trade volume.
    • Big soy losses seemed to weigh on corn futures Friday. The soy complex dipped Thursday night, then declined farther Friday morning as traders continued reacting to news of big Chinese soy shipment cancellations. Late talk of improving weather and planting prospects reportedly sparked late selling. May corn ended the week 2.75 cents lower at $4.985/bushel, while December dropped 5.75 to $4.9925.
    • Talk of Chinese cancellations sent soy values lower. The markets were hit Thursday by news that Chinese buyers had recently cancelled 500,000 tonnes of U.S. and Brazilian purchases. The implied reduction in Chinese demand rather clearly depressed bean and product prices again Friday, despite early news of a big new-crop sale. May soybeans dove 19.25 cents to $14.63/bushel in late Friday trading, while May soyoil fell 0.40 cents to 42.10 cents/pound, and May soymeal sank $6.6 to 472.9/ton.
    • Weather forecasts may have affected the wheat markets. Although current precipitation forecasts don’t seem all that substantial, late-week improvements in the moisture outlook seemed to weigh on the winter wheat markets Friday. Futures firmed around midsession, but ended the day weakly. May CBOT wheat futures settled down 2.0 cents at $6.6025/bushel Friday afternoon, while May KCBT wheat futures sagged 3.0 cents to $7.195, while May MWE futures added 0.75 cents to $7.0175.
    The WASDE Grain Report: 
    • Corn and coarse grains: U.S. feed grain ending stocks for 2013-2014 are projected lower with reductions for corn, barley and oats. The season-average farm price for corn is raised to $4.40 to $4.80 per bushel, compared with $4.25 to $4.75 per bushel reported last month. The farm price for sorghum was raised to $4.15 to $4.55 per bushel, and both barley and oats price ranges narrowed to $6.00 to $6.20 per bushel.
    • Soybeans and oil seeds: U.S. soybean supplies for 2013-2014 projected higher at 3.49 billion bushels, up 30 million on increased imports. Prices for soybeans and soybean products were raised. The projected range for the season-average soybean price was raised to $12.50 to $13.50 per bushel. Both soybean oil and soybean meal prices were also projected higher.
    • Wheat: U.S. wheat ending stocks for 2013-2014 are projected 25 million bushels higher with lower imports more than offset by a reduction in feed and residual use. The report projects season-average farm price for all wheat unchanged at $6.75 to $6.95 per bushel.
    In this month’s supply and demand update USDA raised corn use and lowered 2013/14 ending stocks. Exports were raised 125 million bushels to 1.75 billion. Exports have been revised higher on five of the past six monthly updates, increasing a total of 525 million bushels since last fall. Corn ending stocks are now forecast at 1.331 billion bushels, down 125 million from last month and about 70 million bushels below the average of trade estimates.
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    Five Year Moving Average - Corn
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