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DTN Midday Livestock Comments          03/22 11:26

   Livestock Contracts Trade Sheepishly Ahead of Fed's Rate Announcement

   Until the market can see what the Fed opts to do with interest rates, it's 
likely that the timid nature of the market continues.

ShayLe Stewart
DTN Livestock Analyst


   It's not surprising to see the livestock complex trading hesitantly ahead of 
the Fed's announcement of whether or not they'll raise interest rates. Some 
cash cattle bids have developed, but no cattle have traded as of yet. May corn 
is down 1/4 cent per bushel and May soybean meal is down $6.90. The Dow Jones 
Industrial Average is down 40.63 points.


   Packers are hoping they'll be able to get cattle bought early again this 
week as bids have developed across the five-state feeding region. Thus far, no 
feedlots have jumped at their bids of $163 live and $263 dressed, but time will 
tell on whether feedlots remain loyal to their early decision to wait the week 
out and hope for more. The futures complex is trading lower as traders take a 
seat on the market's bleachers, waiting to see what happens with interest rates 
before they'll do much more. Asking prices are noted in the North at $265 and 
in the South at $165. If feedlots desire to trade cattle higher, they're best 
bet is in waiting the week out and waiting to trade cattle until late Thursday 
or Friday.

   The Fed Cattle Exchange Auction held today reported 7 lots (with 5 lots in 
Texas, and 2 lots in South Dakota), totaling 972 head of cattle. Opening prices 
were at $162, high bids were at $162 to $163, and reserve prices were at $163 
to $165. One lot of heifers sold in Texas at $163.

   Boxed beef prices are mixed: choice up $2.28 ($282.20) and select down $1.95 
($269.60) with a movement of 95 loads (65.91 loads of choice, 8.43 loads of 
select, 7.90 loads of trim and 12.69 loads of ground beef).


   The feeder cattle contracts are trading mostly in line with Tuesday's market 
as traders are cautious of doing anything ahead of the Fed's interest rate 
announcement. But holding the market steady after closing higher Tuesday 
afternoon is a win in and of itself. If feedlots can hold off on selling cattle 
until later in the week and see steady to $1.00 higher trade, that support 
could help feeders trade higher if corn prices remain stagnant. March feeders 
are down $0.57 at $188.20, April feeders are down $0.85 at $193.85 and May 
feeders are down $1.32 at $198.22.


   Yet again, the lean hog complex is trading lower as the market has yet to 
find any substantial support to finally put a bottom in the market's downturn. 
April lean hogs are down $0.92 at $76.12, June lean hogs are down $2.07 at 
$89.27 and July lean hogs are down $2.07 at $91.25. Depending on what the Feds 
what decide to do with interest rates, the lean hog market could continue to 
trade lower or, if the market reacts poorly to their decision, new pressure 
could send the market even lower.

   The projected lean hog index for March 21 is down $0.84 at $77.83 and the 
actual index for March 20 is down $0.88 at $78.67. Hog prices on the Daily 
Direct Morning Hog Report have averaged $77.29, ranging from $76.00 to $79.00 
on 5,900 head and the five-day rolling average sits at $77.49. Pork cutouts 
total 232.78 loads with 215.07 loads of pork cuts and 17.71 loads of trim. Pork 
cutout values: down $1.02, $80.50.

   ShayLe Stewart can be reached

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