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DTN Closing Livestock Comment 12/04 16:05

   Down Day for Cattle Contracts; Lean Hogs Mostly Higher

   Cattle contracts struggled to keep losses less than $1.00, the lean hog 
market was weak in spots but kept the bulk of the contracts higher. 

By ShayLe Stewart
DTN Livestock Analyst



   For about a month now, cattle contracts have been trading more or less 
steady with days of higher prices followed with days of lower prices. As time 
keeps etching closer and closer to the New Year, cattlemen anxiously await the 
much anticipated boost that typically comes not too long after the ringing in 
Jan. 1. Hog prices are higher again on the National Direct Morning Hog Report, 
up $0.71 with a weighted average of $45.73. March corn is down 2 3/4 cents per 
bushel and January soybean meal is up $2.00. The Dow Jones Industrial Average 
is up 146.97 points and NASDAQ is up 46.03 points.


   Live cattle contracts sank lower and packers are hesitant about bidding too 
soon. December live cattle are down $1.10 at $119.45, February live cattle are 
down $1.47 at $124.17 and April live cattle are down $1.22 at $125.00. As 
contracts wane lower, packers sit back and let anxiousness build. It's no 
secret that because of the shortened week last week, packers need to fill their 
pens and get cattle bought, but feeders may have to wait until late in the week 
to do so. A few head of fats sold Wednesday afternoon in Kansas for $119.50, 
but it wasn't enough to really call business established for the week. 

   Boxed beef cutouts closed lower: choice down $3.20 ($226.95) and select down 
$2.00 ($210.31) with a total movement of 153 loads (102.97 loads of choice, 
21.41 loads of select, 10.94 loads of trim and 17.85 loads of ground beef). 
Wednesday's slaughter is estimated at 121,000 head, 1,000 head less than a year 

   THURSDAY'S CASH CATTLE CALL: Steady to $1.00 higher. The board may be weak 
right now, but the simple fact is that both feeders and packers know that 
cattle must trade this week.


   Down even sharper than the live cattle contracts, feeder cattle contracts 
gave up significant ground on Wednesday. January feeders are down $1.50 at 
$140.87, March feeders are down $1.50 at $141.42 and April feeders are down 
$1.55 at $143.40. Sales are hit or miss right now with a lot depending of the 
quality of the offering, how many cattle are consigned and how many buyers show 
up. After chatting with an industry expert and longtime sale barn owner, he 
mentioned that even though a lot of calves sold in October and November, there 
still is a pile of calves left to be sold. Most cattlemen with significant 
amounts of calves left to sell have their eyes peeled for the 2020 market and 
hope like hell something will spark the complex. 

   On an estimated run of 1,922 head (up 1,544 head from last week), steers and 
heifers at Interstate Regional Stockyard in Cuba, Missouri, sold steady to 
$4.00 higher. It came as no surprise that lots of producers brought cattle to 
town given the combination of calendar events, good weather and a stable feeder 
market. The CME feeder cattle index 12/3/19: $145.19, up $0.16. 


   The lean hog sector was the only market able to keep positivity within in 
realm. December lean hogs closed down $0.62 at $61.87, February lean hogs 
closed $0.05 higher at $68.42 and April lean hogs close $0.47 higher at $74.75. 
Pork cutouts totaled 297.38 loads with 250.31 loads of pork cuts and 47.06 
loads of trim. Pork cutout values are up $0.39 at $81.00. Wednesday's hog 
slaughter is estimated at 494,000 head, 15,000 head more than a year ago. The 
CME lean hog index 12/02/19: $57.38, up $0.03.   

   THURSDAY'S CASH HOG CALL: Steady to $1.00 higher. Given that the lean hog 
sector keeps building the board higher and the cash market steadily higher, the 
current momentum built up should be able to carry into the later part of the 

   ShayLe Stewart can be reached at  


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