LIVESTOCK HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

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TOP STORIES

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Bird Flu Fears Ease for U.S. Chicken Companies -- Market Talk

9:43 ET - Pilgrim's Pride (PPC) says the U.S. poultry industry so far this year has avoided any major damage from avian influenza, and may even have benefited. U.S. agriculture officials and chicken companies persuaded many poultry-importing countries to localize any bans on U.S.-produced chicken to the state or local level after a few cases of bird flu arose earlier this year -- generally sidestepping clampdowns on all U.S. chicken, CEO Bill Lovette says. And, he says U.S. exports gained as other chicken-exporting countries did their own battles with bird flu, which helped boost by at least 10% the prices of chicken legs and other dark meat that are typically exported. PPC gains 2.1% to $25.82. (jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

Georgia Dock Not on Pilgrim's Mind -- Market Talk

10:04 ET - The suspension of the Georgia Dock poultry-pricing index at the end of last year hasn't ruffled the feathers of Pilgrim's Pride (PPC), executives say. The Dock drew controversy last year because it ranged higher than other poultry-pricing indexes, relied on data solely provided by processors, and was used by processors to price chicken sold to grocery stores, though companies including PPC said it only factored into a small percentage of their overall chicken sales. "We have not missed the Georgia Dock," says PPC CEO Bill Lovette. Executives say PPC uses "various mechanisms" to price its poultry and that other indexes continue to publish prices -- which have moved higher. (jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

Food Prices Slip in April Due to Cheaper Grain, Oil, Sugar

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LONDON--World food prices slipped in April due to weaker grain and vegetable oil markets, the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization said Thursday.

The FAO's food price index fell by 1.8% last month from March, but was 10% higher than in April 2016.

STORIES OF INTEREST

Andersons the Latest Farm Stock to Drop -- Market Talk

12:32 ET - Ohio grain company The Andersons (ANDE) reports a $3.1M net loss for 1Q, much improved from a $14.7M loss for the same period last year, but not enough to escape the crosshairs of bearish investors who've had it in for agribusiness firms this week. It's much the same story for ANDE -- like its larger rivals Bunge (BG) and ADM, executives say that farmers have been slow to sell grain to merchandisers such as ANDE because they don't like the low prices, which has crimped trading and processing business. And like its rivals, ANDE shares drop, recently down 6.5%. (jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

Food Industry Applauds GMO Marketing Money -- Market Talk

15:39 ET - Big food companies are applauding $3M in funding tucked into the pending federal budget bill that will promote products with ingredients using genetically-modified crops as safe for public consumption. The funding "will help counter the misinformation about agricultural biotechnology in social media and the public domain," the Grocery Manufacturers Association says in a statement. Pushback over GMOs have been a headache for the food industry, with companies trying to delay labeling provisions passed during the past administration. (heather.haddon@wsj.com; @heatherhaddon)

FUTURES MARKETS

Livestock Futures Extend Gains as Cattle Hit Upper Limit

CHICAGO--Cattle futures surged to their expanded upper limit on Thursday as tight supplies fuel a steep run-up in prices.

Futures closed slightly lower than their latest intraday peak but still extended the month-long rally. Weeks of high prices on the cash market have encouraged feed yards to sell cattle at lighter weights than usual, which has created a supply pinch.

Live cattle futures for June delivery rose 4.5 cents to $1.3455 a pound at Thursday's opening on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, hitting the exchange-mandated daily limit for the third consecutive day, before closing 1.25 cents higher at $1.31300 a pound.

Wholesale beef rose 1.25 cents to $2.34 a pound on Thursday morning, with Americans preparing to fire up grills on upcoming holidays like Memorial Day.

CASH MARKETS

Zumbrota, Minn Hog $1.00 Higher At $38.00 - May 4

Barrow and gilt prices at the Zumbrota, Minn., livestock market today are $1.00 higher at $38.00 per hundredweight.

Sow prices are $2.00 higher. Sows weighing under 450 pounds are $40.00-$42.00, 400-450 pounds are at $40.00-$42.00, 450-500 pounds are $40.00-$42.00 and those over 500 pounds are $44.00-$46.00.

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 4

All figures are on a per-head basis.

Date Standard Margin Estimated margin

Operating Index at vertically -

integrated operations

*

May 4 +$19.69 +$ 34.35

May 3 +$21.76 +$ 31.83

May 2 +$28.68 +$ 32.74

* 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 114.4

(Percent of Year-Ago) Select 110.1

USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Thursday rose $2.99 per hundred pounds, to $235.58, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices rose $1.95 per hundred pounds, to $216.84. The total load count was 121. Wholesale pork prices rose $1.17, to $76.38 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 04, 2017 17:35 ET (21:35 GMT)