For all but one week in 2019, finished cattle prices maintained a premium over young cattle in the store market.
Bolstered by strong global demand for Australian beef, heavy steers traded an average premium of 47¢, or 10%, to EYCI eligible cattle throughout the year.
The spread between young and finished cattle prices reached its peak during September, when heavy steers were operating at a 92¢ premium to EYCI cattle.
Before 2019, the last time finished cattle outperformed the store market over a prolonged period was in 2013, holding a premium over the EYCI for 19 consecutive months, averaging 13¢ higher.
The first three weeks of 2020 have seen the EYCI climb 77¢, as widespread rainfall throughout the eastern states sparked optimism in the store market, lifting competition. Last week, both restockers and processors were averaging 14% higher than prices seen in December, while feeders had increased 8% from the end of 2019.
Finished cattle have also found support from the recent rainfall, as producers opt to cancel their January bookings or are waiting to see if the forecast for more rain comes to fruition in the coming weeks.
However, the spread between young and finished cattle has diminished, largely driven by young cattle.
Following the long weekend, the EYCI was recorded at 576¢/kg on Wednesday (29 January), 10¢ above the heavy steer indicator, which closed at 566¢/kg cwt. Queensland has been the driving force at the finished end of the market so far this year, trading at a 45¢ premium to Victoria and 39¢ to NSW.