There is little or no change to the trade since last week, where the estimated kill was 27,236hd. Steer base quotes on the grid are generally between 410c/kg and 418c/kg.
Most of them appear to be moving at a base of 415c/kg, but there are also deals being done at levels of 415-420c/kg. Heifer quotes are in the range of 425-432c/kg, with 430c/kg being the price mentioned more often than not. A few flat prices of 430c/kg for a mix of three grades have been achieved for heifers in the west. The best I heard on the grid this week was 432c/kg.
O-grade bulls are making between 400c/kg and 405c/kg. The quote range for Rs runs from 410c/kg to 420c/kg, while a few Rs mixed in with Us have made 425c/kg flat. The range for U-grades varies from 420c/kg to 425c/kg.
There is no change to cull cows either. The best of the heavy continentals continue to make 380-400c/kg, with Moyvalley Meats probably one of the better buyers for those types at the moment.
R-grades range between 360c/kg to 385c/kg. Quotes for the Os fall into the 345-360c/kg bracket, while the P-grades remain at 320-334c/kg.
Bord Bia reported that the trade in Britain remained firm, with strong demand for fillets and rumps evident. Trade continued to be helped by ongoing tight supplies.
Reported cattle prices from the AHDB increased slightly, with GB R4L grade steers averaging £375.1p/kg deadweight (equivalent to 478c/kg, including VAT deadweight) for the week ended January 5.
On the continent, the trade was relatively steady across most of the key markets, with prices reflecting this pattern. Trade was helped by some restocking that is continuing to take place following the festive period.
In Germany, R3 young bulls were 2/c lower at €4.33/kg, with O3 cow prices unchanged at €3.30/kg. R3 young bulls in Italy were making €4.34/kg, with O3 cow prices making €3.13/kg including VAT.
Meanwhile, the global beef market is expected to be characterised by tight supplies among key exporting countries throughout 2013. However, exports from these countries are expected to recover by around 6pc. This greater availability of product is forecast to be soaked up by strong demand from Russia and Asia, as well as the Middle East and North Africa.
Global beef output among the big five during 2013 is expected to fall by 0.5pc to 25.7m tonnes. All of this decline will be driven by US output falling by 4pc to 11.3m tonnes, in response to ongoing falling cattle inventories.
Elsewhere, strong production growth is expected to materialise in Uruguay, with output forecast to grow by 8pc to 555,000 tonnes, reflecting greater availability of supply combined with better carcase weights.
Production is expected to grow by 2pc in Brazil and 3pc in Argentina and Australia, although stronger domestic consumption levels will reduce export availability. Most of the increase in exports next year will be driven by higher US shipments, reflecting a fall in US consumption, estimated at 3pc.
European output is expected to fall marginally to 7.63m tonnes in 2013, following a fall of 5pc in 2012. Most of the fall in output is forecast in key producing countries like France, Germany and Italy.
In response to some fall in European output next year, imports are expected to increase by around 8pc to 290,000 tonnes, with consumption expected to show some signs of settling down.
However, consumption will remain under pressure in key markets such as Italy, France and Spain in light of ongoing austerity, as consumers opt for cheaper cuts or alternative proteins.