Cattle indicators continue downward trend

21 April 2016

The national saleyard cattle indicators struggled to find much support again this week, with many producers fraught with the ongoing widespread dry conditions.

This, along with uncertainty in the US market and a stronger A$ compared to where the year began, have compounded the market pressures throughout April in particular.

After a positive first quarter, the national trade steer indicator has dropped from 585¢/kg to 559¢/kg cwt in just three weeks, with significant declines recorded across most selling centres. The younger spectrum of the market had been well supported for the first three months of the year by competition from lot feeders and optimistic restockers, but as the winter months approach that optimism is wavering quickly.

At the heavier end of the market, the decline has been more gradual, with the A$ and weaker US demand coming into play. In fact, at the close of Thursday’s markets, the national heavy steer indicator made a slight recovery, averaging 512¢/kg cwt, up 4¢ from the previous week.

Similarly for the national medium cow indicator, waning market confidence accelerated in April, and the indicator is now at 414¢/kg cwt – almost 30¢ below where the year began.

It should be noted though, that despite coming under increasing pressure, all indicators are 31-115¢/kg cwt higher than the same time last year – when they were in the course of a phenomenal run. 

Looking forward, the A$ and lower US import demand is likely to continue challenging the Australian beef industry for the next few months. Cattle market support will become increasingly reliant a decent autumn break to further stymy the flow of cattle.    

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