Moderate cattle trading surfaced in most areas of feedlot country with $120 live paid in the South ($0.50 higher than last week's weighted averages) and $190-$191 dressed the North ($1-$2 higher). According to the closing report, the national hog base is $0.27 higher ($49-$57.20, weighted average $55.90). Corn futures settled generally 2 cents higher, modestly girded by light short-covering tied to noncommercials. The stock market closed lower with the Dow off 28 points and the Nasdaq down 2.
Live futures imploded at midweek despite reports of firm/higher cash sales. At the close, prices settled 60 to 180 in the red with spot December logically holding up better than deferreds. Blame a combination of long liquidation, light volume, a fear of a large November placement total to be confirmed on Friday. It's always tough to judge the technical significance of late-year trading, and that jury may be out for some time. Beef cut-outs: widely mixed, up $1.17 (select: $203.15) to off $3.67 (choice: $198.09) with light to moderate demand and moderate to heavy offerings (55 loads of choice cuts, 36 loads of select cuts, 9 loads of trimmings, 10 loads of ground beef).
THURSDAY'S CASH CATTLE CALL:
Steady with midweek. We'll want to check trade volume totals in the morning, but there's a good chance that business is done for the week.
Feeder-fat spreads continued to improve Wednesday as feeder contracts fell twice as fast as their live counterparts. Feeder issues settled 117 to 342 points lower. Strangely, spot Jan closed more than $10 below the cash index. CME cash feeder index: 12/15: $152.47, off $0.03.
If live cattle traders ran scared from pending USDA inventory news, lean hog traders seemed to say "Bring it on." Hog futures closed sharply higher, up 67 to 147. Perhaps aggressive short-covering was sparked by the cash trade's recent stability and suggestions that previous expansion has been somewhat overstates. The carcass value closed higher, supported mostly by better demand for bellies and hams. Pork cut-out: $76.51, up $0.24. CME cash lean index for 12/18: $62.71, off $0.47 (DTN Projected lean index for 12/19: $62.38, off $0.33).
THURSDAY'S CASH HOG CALL:
Steady. Look for hog buyers to open trade in the morning with near-steady bids.
John A. Harrington can be reached at email@example.com
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