LIVESTOCK HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

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Chinese Dairy Company to Bid on Danone's Stonyfield -- Update

BEIJING -- China's largest dairy company is preparing an $850 million bid for U.S.-based Stonyfield Farm Inc., which makes organic and Greek-style yogurt, a product that is increasingly popular with upscale consumers in China.

Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Co. said that it would bid for all shares of Stonyfield, which is based in Londonderry, N.H. and is a subsidiary of French dairy company Danone SA. The statement was made Thursday in a filing to the Shanghai Stock Exchange.

Food Safety Officials Upbeat Under Trump, So Far -- Market Talk

11:42 ET - Top US food regulators are sanguine about food safety under the Trump administration to date. Alfred Almanza, head of USDA's food-safety division, is pleased as punch over the selection of Sonny Perdue, a former veterinarian, as USDA Secretary. "I believe food safety is going to be one of the best worlds to be in these next four years," he told the audience at a national food-safety conference. Stephen Ostroff, FDA's acting commissioner, says there will likely be budgetary constraints, hiring challenges and new approaches to regulations. "But in the food safety arena, I think we have a pretty good story to tell," he says. "We haven't heard anything to suggest that doesn't resonate with the administration." (jesse.newman@wsj.com; @jessenewman13)

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U.S., China Agree to Expand Certain U.S. Exports -- Update

The U.S. and China have agreed on broad terms to grant U.S. natural gas exporters and certain other industries easier access to Chinese markets, according to people familiar with the matter.

The governments will release a joint diplomatic communiqué sometime this month aimed at rebalancing and increasing trade between the two countries, the people said. The document is the first product to come out of an agreement in April to increase U.S. exports to China, which has a large trade surplus with the U.S.

U.S. companies have long sought better access to China, including its financial and agricultural markets. China currently has a ban on imports of U.S. beef.

STORIES OF INTEREST

Cropland Prices Dip In Some Places, Rebound in Others -- Market Talk

10:00 ET - Farmland values softened in parts of the Farm Belt, but gained in others, in the first quarter of 2017, Midwestern Fed banks reported. Prices for nonirrigated cropland in the Kansas City Fed district -- which includes states like Kansas and Nebraska -- fell 3% versus a year ago, and irrigated land values also declined. Farmland in the St Louis region, including parts of Illinois and Indiana, regained some value, rising 10%, that Fed bank said. Still, a majority of bankers in the district expect land values will turn south again in the current quarter as incomes weaken further. (jesse.newman@wsj.com; @jessenewman13)

Restaurant Traffic, Sales Trends Getting Worse -- Market Talk

09:31 ET - The new year isn't bringing any relief to restaurants, according to Jefferies. Same-store sales and traffic fell further in April versus March and the two-year sales trend has reached its lowest level since the equity firm began tracking the data in 2012. US restaurant traffic dropped 4% and same-store sales dropped 1.3% last month, Jefferies said. The change in the Easter holiday was one reason for the month-over-month change, but more broadly, increased competition, an oversupply of restaurants and shifting consumer spending habits are taking a toll on dining out. (julie.jargon@wsj.com)

FUTURES MARKETS

Livestock Futures Slide as Sell-Off Continues

CHICAGO--Cattle futures fell on Thursday as traders bet a recent rally had reached a top.

Rising beef prices and lower-weight cattle have not been enough to stave off selling in the cattle market, with futures falling around 9% from a week ago.

"Traders are more and more convinced that a major peak is in place," said forecaster the Hightower Report in a note, adding that high beef prices may scare consumers away.

Live cattle futures for June delivery fell 0.2% to $1.23925 a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. Feeder cattle futures also closed lower.

CASH MARKETS

Zumbrota, Minn Hog $1.00 Higher At $44.00 - May 11

Barrow and gilt prices at the Zumbrota, Minn., livestock market today are $1.00 higher at $44.00 per hundredweight.

Sow prices are steady. Sows weighing under 450 pounds are $43.00-$45.00, 400-450 pounds are at $43.00-$45.00, 450-500 pounds are $43.00-$45.00 and those over 500 pounds are $47.00-$49.00.

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 11

All figures are on a per-head basis.

Date Standard Margin Estimated margin

Operating Index at vertically -

integrated operations

*

May 11 +$17.44 +$44.89

May 10 +$15.95 +$42.13

May 9 +$20.55 +$42.82

* 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 117.2

(Percent of Year-Ago) Select 113.6

USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Thursday rose $2.28 per hundred pounds, to $246.86, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices rose $2.04 per hundred pounds, to $226.66. The total load count was 109. Wholesale pork prices rose $1.28, to $81.28 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 11, 2017 17:34 ET (21:34 GMT)