LIVESTOCK HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

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USDA Secretary Perdue Says Farmers Won't Get a Worse Deal in Nafta Renegotiation -- 2nd Update

U.S. farmers and ranchers won't be worse off after the Trump administration renegotiates the North American Free Trade Agreement, Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue says.

Mr. Perdue, who was sworn in April 25, said in an interview that President Donald Trump needs to weigh Nafta's impact on all corners of the U.S. economy, not just agriculture. The 23-year-old agreement between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico has underpinned a boom in American crop and meat exports. Some in the farm sector fear revamping the pact could endanger those gains.

Pilgrim's Pride Reports First Sales Increase Since 2015 -- Market Talk

17:22 ET - Pilgrim's Pride (PPC) breaks a seven-quarter string of declines, posting a nearly 3% sales increase in 1Q. However, higher costs weighed on profit and margins for the country's No. 2 poultry processor by sales. Overall, PPC misses analysts' targets for sales and EPS, according to FactSet. (maria.armental@wsj.com; @mjarmental)

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Yum Beats as Customers Gobble Up Taco Bell, KFC -- Market Talk

8:23 ET - Yum Brands (YUM) posts much higher profit in 1Q thanks to same-store sales growth at Taco Bell and KFC. Over all, SSS rise 2% from a year ago, better than the 1.5% gain analysts expected. SSS at Taco Bell and KFC rose 8% and 2%, respectively, but fell 3% at Pizza Hut. Adjusted EPS of 65c and revenue of $1.42B also handily beat estimates. YUM, up 16% over the past 12 months, climbs another 1.7% premarket to $67.45. (anne.steele@wsj.com; @AnneMarieSteele)

STORIES OF INTEREST

US Grain Rail Loadings for April Rise to Multiyear High -- Market Talk

16:24 ET - Grain loadings of US rail cars in the month of April rose to the highest since 2011, according to the Association of American Railroads. Rail deliveries to US ports rose 19% so far this year from 2016. "These agricultural exports improve our balance of trade and strengthen the farm economy," says John T. Gray, vice president of the AAR. With an enormous domestic surplus of crops sitting in silos, traders are looking for signs that merchants are moving produce to consumers as demand picks up. (benjamin.parkin@wsj.com; @b_parkyn)

FUTURES MARKETS

Cattle Futures Stampede to Upper Limit

CHICAGO--Cattle futures jumped to their daily upper limit on Wednesday as cash prices continued to rise.

Tight supplies of cattle and strong demand for beef have sent prices skyrocketing in recent weeks, as packers stock up on red meat ahead of celebrations on Mother's Day and Memorial Day.

All this has futures traders pouring into bets that prices will rise further. Live cattle futures for June delivery rose 2.4% to $1.30050 a pound in Wednesday's session at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, hitting the daily upper limit of the exchange-mandated trading band. Contracts for August delivery also rose limit up.

CASH MARKETS

Zumbrota, Minn Hog $1.00 Higher At $37.00 - May 3

Barrow and gilt prices at the Zumbrota, Minn., livestock market today are $1.00 higher at $37.00 per hundredweight.

Sow prices are steady. Sows weighing under 450 pounds are $38.00-$40.00, 400-450 pounds are at $38.00-$40.00, 450-500 pounds are $38.00-$40.00 and those over 500 pounds are $42.00-$44.00.

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 - May 3

All figures are on a per-head basis.

Date Standard Margin Estimated margin

Operating Index at vertically -

integrated operations

*

May 3 +$21.76 +$ 31.83

May 2 +$28.68 +$ 32.74

May 1 +$31.63 +$ 31.30

* 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 110.9

(Percent of Year-Ago) Select 107.5

USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Wednesday rose $3.14 per hundred pounds, to $232.59, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices rose $1.61 per hundred pounds, to $214.89. The total load count was 127. Wholesale pork prices fell 42 cents, to $75.21 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 03, 2017 18:00 ET (22:00 GMT)