It's official for market participants: The ball may not have dropped yet, but pop the top on your finest Champaign and say good riddance to 2019. Ready for a new year, a new market and hopefully new prosperity, producers and market participants are all ready for the clean new slate the new year offers. Hog prices are up on the National Direct Afternoon Hog Report, up $0.80 with a weighted average of $50.45. March corn is down 1/2 cent per bushel and March soybean meal is up $2.40. The Dow Jones Industrial Average is up 76.30 points and NASDAQ is up 26.61 points.
The 2019 live cattle market closes higher than then 100-day moving average ($111.22) and higher than the 40-day moving average ($120.65,) but closes slightly lower than contracts did a year ago when the market wrapped up 2018 at $124.80. The live cattle contracts lacked to make any real progress Tuesday as traders were out for New Year festivities and knew that the market would be idle until after the first of the year. February live cattle closed $0.50 lower at $125.92, April live cattle closed $0.50 lower at $127.17 and June live cattle closed $0.10 lower at $118.90. Cash cattle have yet to pave a path this week, waiting for the end of the week to do their business.
Closing boxed beef prices are lower: choice down $0.24 ($209.42) and select down $3.29 ($202.12) with a large movement of 228 loads (117.86 loads of choice, 68.90 loads of select, 18.17 loads of trim and 22.60 loads of ground beef). Tuesday's slaughter is estimated at 100,000 head and Monday's slaughter was revised to 118,000 head.
THURSDAY'S CASH CATTLE CALL: Steady to $1.00 higher. A long-time respected cattlemen and market participant himself once told me, "the cattle market is nothing but an attitude." As we pause to take a day off Wednesday, I would bet that when the market resumes on Thursday there is a little bit different attitude floating around the market place. For some, with good reason, beef demand is excellent and slaughter is aggressive. And for others, nothing but the warm internal feeling of good luck that the new year tends to spread.
Closing the year on a slightly lower note, feeder cattle contracts tip again just a little lower. January feeder cattle are $0.10 lower at $145.32, March feeders are down $0.27 at $144.22 and April feeders are down $0.22 at $146.75. Able to close the year higher than the 100-day moving average ($141.82) and higher than the 40-day moving average ($144.48) but lower than last year's close of $148.85, feeder cattle contracts are eager to come back Thursday and really get to work. The CME feeder cattle index 12/30/19: $141.81 up $2.67.
December treated lean hog contracts better than some of the previous months. Although the day closed mostly lower in nearby contracts and faintly higher in deferred, hog producers are thankful for a higher cash market and pray to the lord above that Jan. 15 is prosperous like they've been told. February lean hogs closed $0.37 lower at $71.42, April lean hogs closed $0.70 lower at $77.92 and May lean hogs closed $0.60 lower at $84.05. Tuesday's market closed higher than the 100-day moving average ($64.86) and the 40-day moving average ($64.53), and even higher than last year's close of $60.97. Hang in there hog producers, the New Year is finally here. Pork cutouts totaled 393.83 loads with 349.06 loads of pork cuts and 44.77 loads of trim. Pork cutout values: down $1.73 at $73.02. Tuesday's slaughter is estimated at 424,000 head. The CME lean hog index 12/27/19: $58.17, down $0.86.
THURSDAY'S CASH HOG CALL: Slightly higher. The market is ready for higher prices and producers are anxious for the time, but how much higher, and when, are the two biggest questions. Prices could be slightly higher towards the end of the week as new 2020 excitement floats around, but hog prices may be pushed to the back burner if cash cattle prices get aggressive.