A lack of new interest in cash cattle after they traded earlier this week, continued weakness in the beef market, and bearish outside market influences were enough to drive June cattle sharply lower yesterday, down to their lowest prices levels since January 10th. A collapse in energy, metals and many agricultural markets were widely thought to have triggered the selloff, as cattle followed many other commodity markets lower over the past few sessions. Supply continues to come in a bit higher than expected, due in large part to the increased levels of cow and non-fed cattle slaughter that are thought to be a result of severe drought conditions in the southern plains. The 10-day weather outlook for the Texas Panhandle shows a dry trend with some heat, which may keep slaughter active and may keep the flow of cattle onto feedlots active as well. The collapse in energy markets may be a positive factor down the road, as high gasoline prices are seen as one of the key negative demand factors for beef demand during the past month. A continued rise in retail beef prices in the past several months has also been a negative demand factor, and many traders believe this could continue over the near term. Average retail prices in the first quarter came in at $4.64, compared with $4.23 last year at this time. When considering the drop in energy prices and the drop in boxed beef prices over the past month, retail prices could stabilize or slip lower. Boxed beef cutout values were down $1.27 at mid-session yesterday, and closed $1.60 lower at $179.34. This was down from $184.14 the prior week, and it was the lowest since March 10th. U.S. beef export sales for the week ending April 28th came in at 17,200 metric tonnes, compared with the prior 4-week average of 16,500 metric tonnes. Cumulative sales for 2011 have reached 344,300 metric tonnes, up 32.4% from last year's pace. The estimated cattle slaughter came in at 130,000 head yesterday. This brings the total for the week so far to 517,000 head, up from 480,000 head last week at this time and up from 511,000 head a year ago.