Market News & Headlines >> Cattle-on-Feed Report Slightly Negative

December placements of cattle into U.S. feedlots exceeded the expectations of most livestock analysts, while feedlot marketings fell short, according to Friday afternoon’s monthly USDA Cattle-on-Feed report, which looked mildly bearish for the live cattle market. 

USDA pegged December feedlot placements at 99.2% of a year earlier compared with trade estimates that averaged 95.6% in a range in a range from 93.4%-102.3%, while December feedlot marketings came in at 101.1% of a year earlier slightly below pre-report estimates that averaged 101.9% in a range from 101.2%-103.4%. The Jan. 1 feedlot inventory came in at 99.5% of a year earlier against trade estimates that averaged 99.0% of a year earlier in a range from 98.5%-101.1%. 

Feedlot placements were still smaller than a year earlier for the sixth straight month and were the smallest for December since 1998. In actual numbers, December placements were 12,000 head smaller than a year earlier and 82,000 head smaller than a month earlier. However, feedlot placements in the heaviest weight groups, 800 pounds and over and 700-799 pounds were up 10% and 6.9% respectively versus a year earlier. These increases could be negative for April and June live cattle futures. 

Feedlot marketings, meanwhile, were above a year earlier for the second month in a row, but were still 3.8% below the five-year average for December. In actual numbers, marketings were 19,000 head larger than a year earlier and 142,000 head larger than a month earlier. 

The Jan. 1 feedlot inventory was 53,000 head smaller than a year earlier and was 4.5% below the five-year average.