Shrinking inventory: The feedlot inventory issued last Friday was expected to be supportive to cattle prices as analysts estimated that the November placements would be down 7-12% from last year and the Dec. 1 inventory down 6-7%. The inventory is getting "further and further away" from last year and the five-year average and would be the smallest Dec. 1 number since 2002, Feedstuffs sources said.
Cattle prices: The cattle markets increased $1.50 last week to $126/cwt. last Thursday on the Plains and in the Southwest, prices that were 1.6% higher than year ago. Cattle and beef production are declining in the U.S. and worldwide, and there are indications that the global economy may start to strengthen next year, sources said, suggesting that beef prices will increase next year but that consumers will be in a better position to pay those higher prices.
Pork stocks: Analysts eagerly awaited the cold storage report issued last Friday because they expected pork stocks, which have been excessive, to begin reflecting declining hog and pork production. Pork stocks will "decline substantially" in 2013, sources said, which will be a bullish factor in the hog markets.
Hogs snowed in: Hog prices increased $1.90-2.57 last week to $79.08-81.81/cwt. on a lean carcass basis last Thursday, prices that were equivalent to a $60-62 live cash hog market and 1.5% higher than year ago. Sources attributed the rally to a huge snowstorm late last week that shut down much of Iowa and southern Minnesota and Wisconsin, forcing packers elsewhere to bid hard to get hogs in from the farms.
Eggs over: Egg buying for Christmas dinners appeared to be over last week as egg supplies were more available than demand, sources said. Egg prices were $1.28-1.32 and $1.24-1.32/doz. for large-sized eggs delivered to eastern and midwestern store doors last Thursday, down 3-5 cents for the week and 16.1% from last year.
Turkeys over: Turkey buying for holiday needs also appeared to be over last week as observers said demand was limited while supplies were heavy. The national average prices for hens and retail-sized toms were unchanged last Thursday, hens at 93 cents to $1.02/lb. and toms at 99 cents to $1.02/lb., prices that were 6.7% and 3.8% under year ago.
Chickens better: Chicken demand, given the holiday season's focus on beef roasts, hams and turkeys, was better than the anticipated interest last week, sources said, and chicken prices held steady and unchanged with the week before. Chickens were 95-98 cents and 85-95 cents/lb. last Thursday, 22.9% more than year ago, and breast meat was $1.16-1.21/lb., 1.2% less than year ago.