By Cassie Fish,

It started with a small Nebraska packer paying $139 in Kansas Monday afternoon and continued today with active trade in Kansas at $139 with multiple packer participation, $1 higher than the last couple of weeks.

Prices pushed higher north as well, with one string bringing $145 delivered and other trades at $142 in Nebraska and Iowa. The tightest market-ready fed cattle supplies of the season in the north are the primary reason for strong prices, a welcome sight for cattle feeders. Bulls will look for another $1 cash gain next week while others might be pleased to just see the market hold on to its gains.

CME cattle futures responded with a brisk, triple digit rally taking the market above last week’s highs and bringing most active June LC back to its 40-day moving average. It remains to be seen if the market has the legs to continue the rally and take out the line of resistance around the mid-March highs.

The cattle rally was pretty impressive unless one glanced at the CME lean hog rally which saw June LH onward gain over 300 points. The entire grain and soy complex had a big rally today as well.

Boxed beef values continue to grind seasonally higher, making a new high for the move today at just under $273 for choice. It’s the second week in April, and boxed beef values normally don’t top until May, so there are no worries on that side.

As for slaughter levels, last week’s big harvest is expected to be followed by a smaller one this week, with Good Friday and Easter Sunday keeping many plants dark this Saturday, dampening weekly throughput.

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