CME: Volatile Financial Markets Affecting Livestock Futures

US - Again last week, volatile and lower financial and industrial commodity markets at times spilt-over into livestock futures prices.
calendar icon 12 January 2016
clock icon 4 minute read

Futures market price movements were often rather large within individual trading days.

Markets were unnerved by overseas economic and political developments including: more signs of an economic slowdown in China, unclear policy responses, and lower exchange rate policies in that country; nuclear bomb testing in North Korea; and igniting military and political entanglements in the Middle East.

Compared to the close at the end of December, the February Live Cattle contract ended down $3.92 per cwt. last Friday and the February Lean Hog contract was essentially unchanged (up $0.05 per cwt.).

For the first full week of the calendar year, according to USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service preliminary numbers, US beef production posted a 4.0 per cent year-over-year increase, while pork jumped 8.8 per cent.

For the week, the wholesale Choice beef value (cutout) averaged $226.24 per cwt., surging $19.08 (up 9.2 per cent) from the prior week and at the highest level since mid-September 2015. The Choice cutout was about 10 per cent below a year ago.

Even with large amounts of pork being produced, the pork cutout value was up $0.47 per cwt. or less than 1 per cent for the week. Compared to a year ago, the hog cutout value last week was down by about 16 per cent.

A few key items underpinned the wholesale beef market move up. Fresh 50 per cent lean boneless beef trimming (trimmed product from processing steers and heifers) price was up over $34.00 per cwt. (increase of 62.3 per cent) for the week, much of the jump occurred early in the week. Still, those trimmings were prices well below a year ago (down about $57.00 per cwt.).

Most other beef cuts gained week-over-week, but by a smaller percentage than did trim. It is worth noting that some of the higher value individual Choice beef cuts (e.g. Rib Roll ) not only were up significantly for the week but their prices were above a year ago.

Some of the recent wholesale beef price strength was likely related to refilling grocery shelves and needs along the product pipeline after the New Year. End users had been buying hand-to-mouth in recent months and there have been some recent weather related processing/ transportation challenges.

On Tuesday (January 12th), USDA-NASS will release two key reports: 1) Crop Production, which essentially provides the final US 2015 corn and soybean production numbers; and 2) quarterly Grain Stocks as of December 1, 2015.

As is usual for these January released reports, the industry pre-report estimates are very close together and the average is almost identical to or closely reflects prior USDA-NASS reports (e.g. November 2015 Crop Production report for acreage and yield).

Some analysts are looking for USDA to trim 2015’s US corn acreage harvested. US grain stocks will be compared to a year earlier as of December 1st and should be about unchanged for corn and an increase is expected in soybeans (about 200 million bushels or 7 per cent year-over-year).

These reports will only be market-movers if the USDA’s estimates differ significantly from expectations. See the provided table for some of the average estimates.

Also released on Tuesday will be the monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report. Market analysts, will dissect many aspects of the WASDE report, including any changes to previous estimates on exports (crop, meat, and poultry).

On the crop numbers, attention will be given to prospects in Brazil and Argentina given recent weather patterns and economic developments in those countries (exchange rates, etc.).

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