Market optimism grew this week as futures prices gained strength and snug front-end fed cattle supplies suggested higher prices. The notion was justified when trade finally developed late Friday with moderate trade and good demand.

Live prices were $3-$4 higher than the previous week at $129-$130 per cwt. Dressed trade was $5 higher at $205.

“Breaking through the $130 barrier is a big psychological gain as that price level is the highest since the middle of June 2017,” say analysts with the Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS).

Live Cattle futures closed an average of $2.60 higher week to week on Friday ($1.55 to $4.02 higher).

Languishing wholesale beef values found some life and helped, too. Choice boxed beef cutout value was $3.36 higher week to week on Friday at $209.88 per cwt. Select was $2.38 higher at $205.12.

“The finished cattle market is outperforming many people’s expectations right now, resulting in the feeder cattle market outperforming expectations,” says Andrew P. Griffith, agricultural economist at the University of Tennessee, in his weekly market comments.

Calves and feeders trade steady to higher.

Listen to Wes Ishmael’s Cattle Market Weekly Audio Report every Saturday morning on the BEEF magazine website. This is your report for Saturday, Feb. 18, 2018.