Holding Gains

By Cassie Fish, http://cassandrafish.com

Yesterday’s dynamically bullish action in CME live cattle futures, was given more credence by the fact that volume was heavy at 64k contracts and open interest rose over 5k contracts. Today the market has traded mostly a bit lower, though if gains are held on Friday’s close, it will be new-all-time-high settlements through the strip of contract months. Spot December is the highest any spot live cattle contract has traded since April 2015.

Extremely frigid wind chills are barreling through cattle feeding country from Nebraska down to the Texas panhandle. Wind chills are in the minus 30 range in many areas.

This cold weather slows the entire supply chain, from processing throughput to weight gain of cattle. This week’s slaughter total will land somewhere between 550k and 580k head mostly likely, 100k head smaller than though early Monday morning.

This throughput slow down has boosted boxed beef prices, choice printing at $266 this morning, the highest daily price since early August and the highest daily value for any third week in December in history. Fed cattle prices are the second highest for any December in history. Today in Nebraska, there has been light cash trade, $158 delivered and south a little trade at steady, $155. This week’s production cuts have taken pressure off the packers to buy many cattle this week and they may well wait until next week, to the extent they can.

Next week temperatures will normalize and business will get back to a normal holiday week. It will be interesting to see if packers work on Saturday, December 31, since so much production was lost this week. Seasonally boxed beef prices advance the first two to three weeks of January as retailers fully restock post-holiday season.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of our readers around the world. We appreciate you! Stay warm!

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