CME: Government Shutdown Information Gap Slowly Being Filled

US - USDA is slowly filling the information gap created by the government shutdown. Here’s where we stand at this point, write Steve Meyer and Len Steiner,
calendar icon 1 November 2013
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Wholesale beef/pork prices: USDA has issued summary reports that cover the period Oct 1 - Oct 16. The reports provide weighted average prices for the reference period rather than daily or weekly reports. In the last two days, USDA/AMS also provided the cutout calculations for beef, pork and lamb. You can find the updated reports on the USDA/AMS site.

Cattle on Feed report: The report will be issued today at 3PM ET. In our October 16 issue we provided a summary of analyst estimates and some thoughts regarding the status of cattle supplies
in feedlots as of October 1. The attached table provides a slight revision to the earlier analyst estimates. Overall the expectation is for a modest increase in placements and higher marketings.

Keep in mind that there was one additional marketing day this year compared to a year ago. While the feedlot survey is somewhat dated at this point, it will be interesting to see the trend in heifer placements, a number that is provided only quarterly.

Most analysts, us included, expect heifer placements to trend lower in the coming quarters as strong returns encourage producers to push more heifers into the beef and dairy herd rather
than send them into feedlots.

Cold storage stocks: The report will be issued today at 3PM ET. It is another dated report but which is important in maintaining an unbroken historical series. It will be interesting to observe the trend in pork inventories given the sharp decline in hog slaughter in September. At the end of August ham inventories were higher than a year ago but it is likely supplies were counter seasonally lower in September. Ham prices remain relatively high, and we think in part this reflects the reduction in frozen stocks.

Livestock slaughter: The report will be issued today at 3PM ET and it includes the monthly estimates of cattle and hog slaughter for September. As always, note the impact that differences
in marketing days have on the year/year change in supplies.

Weekly hog slaughter numbers were sharply lower in September and this report will confirm that. Note that the decline will not be as large because of the difference in marketing days.

Broiler supplies: The weekly hatchery report was issued yesterday and it included the missing data for the first two weeks of October. After a brief pullback in the first week of October, weekly
broiler egg sets have surged higher and in the last three weeks averaged +4.6% above year ago. The monthly estimate for the hatching flock will be released today at 3PM ET.

Weekly exports: Today at 8:30 AM USDA will release the weekly export data for the period October 4—October 24. The export data will cover all three weeks and analysts will have to play with the numbers a bit to come up with weekly estimates. It will be particularly interesting to see the trend in beef exports during October. Shipments to Japan, which were sharply higher following the change in export rules, declined in September. Judging from pricing of some cuts that traditionally go to that market, October exports continue to be softer.

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