Market News & Headlines >> Cattle Report Slightly Negative

Friday afternoon’s monthly USDA Cattle-on-Feed Report held mildly negative news for the live cattle market as it pegged the Jan. 1 feedlot inventory at the high end of trade expectations on relatively active December placements and light marketings.

Live cattle futures showed limited reaction to the report on Monday morning, however, as cattle supplies are still historically tight and futures were already discount to Plains cash markets, which traded to record levels again last week.

USDA pegged the supply of cattle in U.S. feedlots as of Jan. 1 at 94.6% of a year earlier, compared with trade estimates that averaged 93.8% in a range from 92.5%-94.7% and put December feedlot placements at 101% of a year earlier versus estimates averaging 97.7% in a range from 91.4%-102.1%. December feedlot marketings came in at 99.5% against expectations averaging 102.0% in a range from 97.7%-104.5% of a year earlier.

Even though the feedlot inventory was near the high end of expectations, it was still the smallest for Jan. 1 since 1996, 600,000 head smaller than a year earlier and 132,000 head smaller than on Dec. 1.

December feedlot placements were 17,000 head larger than a year earlier and were the largest in three years, but they were still down 201,000 head from November.

December feedlot marketings were the smallest in five years, but were only 9,000 head below a year earlier and were 64,000 head larger than November marketings.

The cattle market is now looking ahead to this Friday’s USDA Cattle Inventory Report, which will give traders a fresh reading on the total size of the U.S. cattle herd as of Jan. 1 and an indication of how much expansion of the beef cattle herd is underway.