GRAIN HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

Features Dow Jones Newswires

TOP STORIES:

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Grain Futures Rise on Weather Concerns

CHICAGO--Grain futures rose on Thursday as cold, wet weather battered key growing regions.

Heavy rain in parts of the Midwest would delay corn planting and decrease soft red wheat quality, said MDA Weather Services, while cold temperatures in the U.S. plains could also damage the wheat crop there.

Corn futures for May delivery rose 0.8% to $3.62 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade on Thursday, while CBOT May wheat futures rose 1.4% to $4.13 1/2 a bushel.

Pinnacle Outperforms Broader US Food Industry -- Market Talk

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14:16 ET - Pinnacle Foods (PF), with brands like Duncan Hines and Birds Eye, impresses investors with its earnings, separating itself from the swath of consumer companies that posted lackluster results recently and sending its shares up 6%. "We continued to navigate the challenging environment quite well," CEO Mark Clouse tells investors. The industry, "at least on the surface, looks weaker in early 2017," he says. "As you know, there's no shortage of theories attempting to explain what has caused the slowdown. I believe that the recent softness has been driven by several factors, none of which alone are large enough to fully account for it but collectively, I believe, these factors have had an impact." He said a later Easter, warmer winter and increases in ecommerce all played roles. (annie.gasparro@wsj.com)

STORIES OF INTEREST:

Bayer CFO Will Leave in 2018 -- Market Talk

17:18 GMT - Bayer AG, the German chemicals company, has extended the contract of finance chief Johannes Dietsch until May 31, 2018. After that date, Dietsch will leave the company at his own request. His successor will be announced at a later date. Bayer is currently in the process of buying US fertilizer firm Monsanto (MON), and the acquisition is expected to close later this year. (Nina.Trentmann@wsj.com; @Nina_Trentmann)

Hershey Blames External Factors for Sales Slowdown -- Market Talk

11:45 ET - Hershey (HSY), which reported lower-than-expected sales growth Wednesday, says people are snacking more often, but US food retail trends are "choppy" overall, perhaps exacerbated by delayed tax refunds and more online shopping. The chocolate maker lowered its sales forecast for the year "given the uncertainty regarding overall US brick-and-mortar retail trends." HSY's new CEO Michele Buck confirmed what Wall Street has warned of for a couple months now: 1Q marked a significant downturn in US packaged food sales overall. "First quarter marketplace performance across most of the US food group was soft." With Mondelez (MDLZ), Kraft Heinz (KHC) and Kellogg (K) reporting next week, expectations are low. (annie.gasparro@wsj.com)

Potash Says Deal With Agrium On Track -- Market Talk

7:47 ET - Canadian fertilizer company Potash Corp of Saskatchewan (POT) says its plans to merge with fellow Canadian firm Agrium (AGU) are on track. In its quarterly earnings release, POT says that it was "making good progress" on the $27B merger, which is still in regulatory review. Potash still expects the deal to close in mid-2017. This week, the Trump administration stoked concerns over trade issues with Canada. But late Wednesday, the administration said it was no longer considering pulling out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, following a day of intense lobbying. POT rises 4.2% premarket to $17.36 in light trading. (austen.hufford@wsj.com; @austenhufford)

THE MARKETS:

Livestock Futures Leap on Nafta Uncertainty

CHICAGO--Livestock futures leaped on Thursday as traders took stock of the Trump administration's shifting position on trade with its neighbors.

Concern that the U.S. could leave the North American Free Trade Agreement if Mexico and Canada were unwilling to renegotiate the deal has roiled livestock trading this week. Prices rose Thursday after the White House said it did not plan on leaving the agreement soon, though some market participants continued to bet defensively.

Lean hog futures for June delivery rose 2.9% to 72.825 cents a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, while April live cattle futures rose 2.7% to $1.356 a pound.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 27, 2017 17:45 ET (21:45 GMT)