Our weekly cash cattle trade became more active yesterday at mostly lower values and futures spent most of the session on the defensive, giving back much of the gains we saw on Tuesday. Pre-report COF estimates were released yesterday, showing the industry looking for the on feed count to be up 0.9% versus last year, Nov placements down 4.1%, and Nov marketings up 3.4%. One extra business day this year versus last accounts for most of that increase in marketings, but also means the placement pace was even slower than the y-o-y number taken at face value. Volatile markets, terrible closeout losses, and poor forward margins all contributing to the slow placement pace. This would be our fifth consecutive month of below-year-ago placements, despite the fact we’ve actually got more feeder cattle available, as many as 1.0-1.2 million more head accumulating outside of feedyards. It’s not a coincidence the forward feeder-fat spreads continue to narrow with some profitable placement opportunities now finally being seen.
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