LIVE CATTLE futures on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange (CME) closed lower on Monday. The APR’11LC contract closed at $116.025/cwt, up $2.375/cwt and $2.15/cwt lower than a week ago. AUG’11LC futures closed at $114.450/cwt; down $2.225/cwt and $2.85/cwt down from last report. The DEC’11LC contract closed at $121.300/cwt; off $1.575/cwt and $2.025/cwt lower than this time last week. Technical selling by funds surprised floor traders even as lower futures were expected on higher grain prices. Fundamentally bearish in the short run, USDA’s Cattle on Feed report last week showed placements for heavy feeders up nearly 22%. March marketings and a drop in the average weight of cattle processed last week were supportive to nearby contracts. Marketings were up 4.5% over last year while weights were down 9 lbs from a week ago to 1,268 lbs/head 1,249 lbs/hd a year ago. Cattle futures are trending lower on seasonal pressure as sales slow on supermarket supplies already bought for the holidays. Boxed beef sales are generally pre-booked by the middle of May. Cash cattle were lower on slack sales as many processing plants did not operate on Monday. On Monday USDA put the 5-area average price at $119.15/cwt; $0.05/cwt over this time last week. USDA placed Monday’s process totals at 92,000 head vs. 120,000 head a week ago and 126,000 head this time last year. USDA on Monday put choice boxed beef at $186.49/cwt; up $0.66/cwt and $0.90/cwt higher than last report. Beef plant margins remain negative due to high cattle prices. According to HedgersEdge.com, the average packer margin was raised $7.10/head to a negative $19.85/head based on the average buy of $119.15/cwt vs. the average breakeven of $117.57/cwt.
FEEDER CATTLE at the CME closed down on Monday with the five nearby contract limit down. The MAY’FC11 contract closed at $129.975/cwt; down $3.000/cwt and $3.250/cwt lower than a week ago. The AUG’11FC contract settled at $133.950/cwt, down $3.000/cwt but $2.925/cwt under last report. Feeders were hit by higher prices for feed to put into cattle that will be lower prices in the fall due to seasonality pressures. Additionally, seasonal weakness is creeping into feeder cattle as well. Funds were noted sellers. The Oklahoma City National Stockyards were closed Monday with last week’s receipts placed at 12,762 head vs. 12,146 head this time last year. Demand was slack in thin volume. The latest CME feeder cattle index was placed at $132.40; down $0.72 and $1.32 lower than last report.