LIVESTOCK HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

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TOP STORIES

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Investors Ho-Hum on Tyson's Sandwich Deal -- Market Talk

11:37 ET - Tyson Foods (TSN) trumpets its $4.2B deal to acquire sandwich-maker AdvancePierre (APFH) as the next step as the meat supplier builds a prepared foods franchise, but some investors hoped for a deal with more pizzazz, according to JPMorgan. "Many investors (and we) were looking for a deal in branded retail, not private label food service," JPM says, noting the deal size also undershoots recent TSN executive statements that the company could deploy $10B for the right acquisition. Analysts say TSN is under pressure to make the deal work as advertised, including delivering on sales synergies. But, it's worth noting that some analysts initially were skeptical about the $7.7B Tyson paid for Hillshire in 2014, now regarded as a major success. (jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

Cargill to Exit Cattle Feedlots in Beef Shift -- Market Talk

10:43 ET - Agricultural conglomerate Cargill strikes a deal to sell its two remaining US cattle feedlots to ethanol producer Green Plains (GPRE), reflecting shifting priorities for both companies. For Cargill, the $36.7M sale frees up capital the company has been redeploying to beef processing and higher-margin meat products, after several years of punishing conditions for feedlots, which have struggled as beef prices slid. But rising cattle prices in recent months have revived feedlots' fortunes, and GPRE sees Cargill's Kansas and Colorado feedlots as a good bet--and a steady consumer of the animal-feed byproduct from ethanol production. GPRE, which agreed to supply cattle to Cargill in the deal, rises 1.7%. (jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

Burger King Sales Drop While McDonald's Showed Gain -- Market Talk

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09:37 ET - Restaurant Brands (QSR) reported a rare same-store sales miss at its Burger King and Tim Hortons chains at a time when McDonald's (MCD) posted a gain. Are the Golden Arches stealing customers from the King? Burger King posted a 2.2% decline in 1Q US same-store sales, while MCD US SSS rose 1.7% in the quarter, beating analyst estimates. MCD has pledged to place a renewed focus on attracting its core fast-food customers and has become more price-competitive, with $1 any-size soda and coffee drinks. Same-store sales at Tim Hortons Canada fell less than 1%. QSR off 4.6% to $55.84. (julie.jargon@wsj.com)

STORIES OF INTEREST

Tyson Plans Higher Pay, More Training to Retain Slaughterhouse Workers

Tyson Foods Inc. plans to pay more at some meat plants and expand training to boost retention and reduce injuries in notoriously tough jobs.

The meat company said Wednesday it also plans to publish regular audits of its operations conducted by external groups and to include employees in evaluations of plant performance and worker treatment.

Alarm Sounds In Farm Country Over NAFTA Exit Chatter -- Market Talk

17:22 ET - More farm groups raise alarms over reports that the Trump administration is mulling a withdrawal from NAFTA, which many crop and livestock producers say has underpinned years of growth in exports. "Closing that door would be a terrible blow to the US wheat industry and its Mexican customers," says the National Association of Wheat Growers, noting that Mexico buys more than 10% of all US wheat sold overseas. Ron Moore, an Illinois soybean farmer and president of the American Soybean Association, calls exiting NAFTA "a terrible idea" that would only heap further economic difficulties on already-struggling farmers. (jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

FUTURES MARKETS

Cattle Futures Rise as Market Battles Over Pricing

Live cattle futures closed higher Wednesday as packers and producers played a game of push-pull on pricing.

The weekly online Fed Cattle Exchange, which in recent months traders have watched closely for pricing discovery in the market, produced sales of 1,945 cattle versus 5,448 head for sale at a weighted average price of $1.3168 a pound for delivery over the next nine days, with cattle price for delivery 30 days out down to $1.2542 a pound.

Traders watching the online auction were confounded by several offers to buy heifers at $1.35 a pound that didn't lead to a sale.

CASH MARKETS

Zumbrota, Minn Hog Steady At $34.00 - Apr 26

Barrow and gilt prices at the Zumbrota, Minn., livestock market today are steady at $34.00 per hundredweight.

Sow prices are steady. Sows weighing under 450 pounds are $35.00-$37.00, 400-450 pounds are at $35.00-$37.00, 450-500 pounds are $35.00-$37.00 and those over 500 pounds are $39.00-$41.00.

The day's total run is estimated at 100 head.

Prices are provided by the Central Livestock Association.

Estimated U.S. Pork Packer Margin Index - Apr 26

All figures are on a per-head basis.

Date Standard Margin Estimated margin

Operating Index at vertically -

integrated operations

*

Apr 26 +$33.09 +$ 26.74

Apr 25 +$36.42 +$ 27.71

Apr 24 +$38.03 +$ 29.10

* Based on Iowa State University's latest estimated cost of production.

A positive number indicates a processing margin above the cost of production of the animals.

Beef-O-Meter

This report compares the USDA's latest beef carcass composite

values as a percentage of their respective year-ago prices.

Beef

For Today Choice 99.5

(Percent of Year-Ago) Select 97.9

USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Wednesday rose 17 cents per hundred pounds, to $219.18, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices fell 55 cents per hundred pounds, to $205.72. The total load count was 135. Wholesale pork prices fell 45 cents, to $72.84 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 26, 2017 17:51 ET (21:51 GMT)