June cattle rallied at the close yesterday giving some indication that there is some support in this market. Cash prices traded at $95-$96, and the record high beef prices should benefit the market in cleaning up the backlog of cattle. The talk of more and more states slowly reopening has been a positive force in the market. The USDA boxed beef cutout value was up $7.24 at mid-session yesterday and closed $10.18 higher at $367.56. This was up from $284.29 the previous week and was another new all-time high. The cutout has increased $145.22 since April 9, a 65% increase. The average dressed steer weight for the week ending April 18th came in at 889 pounds, up from 886 the previous week and 857 a year ago. The 5-year average weekly weight for that week is 862.4. The cattle markets have been very volatile for the month of April but I think in May we will start to see an upturn in the cattle markets.
U.S. beef export sales for the week ending April 23 totaled 9,388 tonnes, down from 11,217 the previous week and the lowest for any week since January 2. Total commitments for 2020 have reached 426,700 tonnes versus 396,400 a year ago and a five-year average of 349,300. This is also the highest total for this point in the year on record, which goes back as far as 2002. The biggest buyer this week was Japan at 2,856 tonnes, followed by South Korea at 1,186, Canada at 1,055, and China at 1,048. The countries with the largest commitments this year are Japan at 134,400 tonnes and South Korea at 108.800. China is in seventh place at 6,970. The USDA estimated cattle slaughter came in at 80,000 head yesterday. This brings the total for the week so far to 301,000 head, down from 339,000 last week and down from 485,000 a year ago.