Live cattle prices traded higher overnight on initial signs that beef demand might be improving. Some traders indicated that a transition to normal summer-type weather for the US into next week could be a factor that also supports demand. The drought situation in the southern plains is expected to intensify over the next few weeks, as a number of models show a hot and dry trend. This may force more cattle onto feedlots earlier than expected and boost beef production into the third quarter. In the meantime, cash markets traded $108 last week with some light trade at $105 early this week before more active trade developed at $104.00. The estimated cattle slaughter came in at 130,000 head yesterday. This brings the total for the week so far to 260,000 head, up from 258,000 last week at this time and up from 258,000 a year ago. Boxed beef cutout values were up $1.89 at mid-session yesterday and closed $1.63 higher at $178.96. This was up from $178.35 the prior week and is up to the highest level since May 10th.