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Live cattle and feeder futures posted solid gains today with more strength in the front couple months. Feeders were also in the green and nearby March was the strongest, up $2.20 on the session. Cash sales were slim last week and quiet to start this week. The CME feeder cattle index for Friday was $206.24, down $1.48. Slaughter today was estimated at 109K head, up from only 99K a week ago but down from 113K a year ago. The Choice boxed beef average price in the afternoon report was $248.67, up $1.09 from Friday, but Select prices averaged 12 cents lower. Tightening supplies are not just a US phenomenon: The cattle herd in Australia is expected to hit a 20-year low by June due to extended drought, according to an Australian government report. The authors suggest the third largest beef exporter will ship 1.16 MMT in the year starting July 1, down from 1.2 MMT in this marketing year, as slaughter drops by more than 6% to 8.9 million head. The report also predicts shipments to the US - important for hamburger supplies – could slump by 10% to 380K metric tons.
Apr 15 Cattle closed at $153.450, up $1.750,
Jun 15 Cattle closed at $145.800, up $1.950,
Aug 15 Cattle closed at $143.675, up $1.625,
Mar 15 Feeder Cattle closed at $204.100, up $2.200
Apr 15 Feeder Cattle closed at $202.125, up $1.800
May 15 Feeder Cattle closed at $200.525, up $1.650