FED CATTLE HIGHER
Average live steer prices firmed 61 cents to $119.06 per hundredweight and heifer prices rose $1.50 to $118.41.
A handful of steers traded at $120 per cwt. f.o.b. the feedlot but most sales were dressed from $200 to $202 delivered.
Sale volumes of 14,349 head were six percent smaller than the previous week and 21 percent smaller than last year.
Weekly Canadian fed slaughter for the four-day week ending Aug. 10 was 13 percent smaller than the previous week at 37,871 head and year to date is down nine percent to 1,432,443.
Canadian fed cattle exports to the U.S. for the week ending Aug. 3 were 3,635 head, down 15 percent compared to the previous week.
Current feedlot supplies have generally maintained fed prices above $118 per cwt. since the beginning of May.
Market ready fed volumes should seasonally begin to tighten but post Labour Day buyer interest is expected to soften along with summer beef demand.
The fed market should be trending to a summer low.
This year however, spring highs developed seasonally late in June and second quarter placements were large.
This increases the probability of annual lows not being established until September.
Prices this week are expected to struggle and could trend lower.
Non-Fed Reach highs
Seasonally large slaughter volumes have helped tighten front end packer supplies.
Generally speaking, good grass conditions across much of the Prairies have resulted in limited marketing pressure.
Butcher cows continue to establish annual highs, trading $1 to $2 higher with D1, D2s averaging $82.65 and D3s averaging $73.63.
D1, D2 cows have averaged above $80 per cwt. for the past three weeks but have been trading at a $2 to $4 per cwt. discount to U.S. utility cow prices.
Weekly non-fed exports to Aug. 3 totalled 5,870, up 21 percent from the previous week.
Expectations are that non-fed cattle grassed over summer will be marketed soon.
Non-fed volumes should remain manageable for the duration of August with good price support.
HISTORIC HIGHS FOR STEERS
Since the beginning of June, 800 pound or heavier steer and heifer prices have strengthened slightly more than 15 percent.
With average prices reported $1 to $4 higher this week, new historic highs have been established for 850 lb. steers and 950 lb. steers and heifers.
Calves and light-weight stocker prices have moved higher in recent weeks but have underperformed in comparison to the yearling market.
Feedlots are willing to pay for additional weight because there is little to no price slide from a 750 lb. to 850 lb. feeder.
Alberta and Saskatchewan 1,000 to 1,050 lb. steers for September delivery were reported from $134 to $138 per cwt.
Special yearling sales were highlighted in southern Alberta, which inflated sale volumes. Alberta and Saskatchewan auction volumes were 30 percent and 20 percent higher respectively, than the same week last year.
Getting closer to the Labour Day holiday, U.S. boxed beef prices climbed higher with Choice up $4.99 per cwt. and Select up $3.66 per cwt. US.
Choice ribs surged $11.99 per cwt. while other middle cuts were up $1.44 to $4.62 per cwt.
Compared to the pre-holiday growth in 2012, the rally is relatively modest as buyers tend to go more hand-to-mouth. A larger increase is expected next week.
Canadian cut-out values for the week ending Aug. 9 traded higher with AAA up $4.45 per cwt. to $197.51 Cdn. per cwt. and AA up $2.46 to $190.60 per cwt. Cutouts are now $11 to $14 higher than last year.