The beef trade is hovering on the edge of a tough tug-o-war contest between farmers and processors.
Quoted prices have steadied after a three-week decline, and an autumn price battle is simmering.
Prices on offer at the factories range from 390 to 400 cent/kg (139p-143p/lb) as a base for the steers.
But it would be hard to find any steers moving at the lower end of that range, and most of the sales are in the 305-403 cent/kg range, with some reports of 405-406 cent/kg being negotiated between factory agents and farmers.
Heifer prices are being quoted at and sold for a 10-15 cent/kg premium over the steer price.
Cutting the steer base price below 400 cent/kg was always going to bring reaction from farmers, and over the past two weeks, they tightened their grip on the supply of cattle, bringing a halt to the decline in quotes.
Last week's intake was about 24,385 head, compared to 26,600 for the same week last year.
The likelihood of intake falling below 24,000 head per week at this time of the year is remote.
Whether processors want to secure an increase in the kill or not remains the issue.
So far this year, they have not shown willingness to fuel the price by very much in order to get extra cattle, and many observers in the trade are questioning if export markets for higher priced beef exist.
Meanwhile, land in most parts of the country is waterlogged, putting farmers under pressure to lighten the stocking rate, which could help processors resist demands for better prices.
The cow trade is also stable at the factories this week at unchanged prices.
Base prices being quoted for O/P grade cows for this week ranged from 330 to 350 cent/kg (118p-128p/lb).
Few cattle are being sold the lower end, but it is harder to get extra at the top of the range.
However. the better quality heavy R-grade cows are still in demand, but the prices have come well back from the earlier peaks, and 355 to 365 cent/kg is the general run for them this week.
In the UK, the beef trade was reported as steady last week, as lower supplies matched demand levels.
Weak demand for manufacturing beef remained evident.
Prices for R4L grade steers eased to the equivalent of 468 cent/kg (167p/lb). On the Continent, trade across most of the key markets was reported as stable, with demand matching supplies.
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