Live and feeder cattle futures traded to fresh contract lows yet again on Friday, closing with general $4-5 week-to-week losses in the fats and $8-10(!) losses in the feeders. Friday afternoon's COF report, however, should lend a supportive hand this morning as Aug placements were shown at just 94.6% of a year ago, a new all-time low, and a full 6% below the average trade guess. This resulted in an on feed total at 102.7% of last year, below the low end of the estimated range. Aug marketings were as expected. But regardless of the placement total, the industry must still work through very heavy front-end supplies, which has forced our cash market lower for six consecutive weeks and buried feedyard closeouts deep in the red to the benefit of packer, and to a lesser extent retailer, margins. Packers did push through a 576K head slaughter total last week, a multi-month high, and larger than most had anticipated. This will help clean up the problematic cash cattle market, but also likely press the beef market lower-yet this week where the choice cutout was down $10 last week, $4.20 on Friday alone.
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