Sharp, triple-digit losses have swiftly moved through cattle trade Thursday. This may add even more volatility to the complex moving into early April. Corn prices are higher in light trade. May corn futures are 12 cents higher. Stock markets are higher in light trade. The Dow Jones is 223 points higher while Nasdaq is up 83 points.
Triple-digit losses have quickly moved through the complex with traders trying to salvage as much market support as possible before the end of the week. With markets closed Friday, any moves seen over the next couple of hours will account for not only week-ending closing prices, but also month- and quarter-ending closing prices. The sharp rally in grain markets is adding renewed pressure to all trade Thursday morning. This could lead to limit losses in light, late-day activity. Cash cattle sales in Texas have been reported at $121 per cwt through the morning. These prices are steady with trade earlier in the week, but $5 per cwt under last week's prices. It is uncertain if any additional trade will develop in the South, although Northern trade is still expected over the coming days. Bids of $192 to $194 are seen in Nebraska, which could spark some additional movement later in the day. Boxed beef cut-outs at midday are lower, $1.34 lower (select) and down $0.02 per cwt (choice) with light movement of 79 total loads reported (43 loads of choice cuts, 24 loads of select cuts, no loads of trimmings, 12 loads of ground beef).
Sharp losses have quickly flooded into feeder cattle futures. Even though March futures are showing only light losses due to market inactivity, the rest of the complex is holding losses near $4 per cwt at midday. The renewed pressure could quickly develop in limit losses at the end of the trading session. This would create increased volatility with traders looking at these closing price levels for both end of month and quarter targets.
Firm pressure is seen in all but front-month April contracts Thursday morning. The strong rally in grain markets following the USDA report has caused additional pressure to develop in all livestock markets. Most hog futures are trading in a narrow to moderate range of 10 to 50 cents per cwt. There is growing weakness in all contracts as traders square end-of-the-month positions. Cash prices are higher on the National Direct morning cash hog report. The weighted average price is up $0.05 at $48.86 per cwt with the range from $45.00 to $51.00 on 4,690 head reported sold. Cash prices are higher on the Iowa/Minnesota Direct morning cash hog report. The weighted average price is up $0.36 at $48.88 per cwt with the range from $45.00 to $51.00 on 2,695 head reported sold. The National Pork Plant Report posted 141 loads selling with carcass values slipping $0.30 per cwt. Lean hog index for 3/28 is at $59.85, down 0.73 with a projected two-day index of $59.06, down 0.79.