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China to Beef Up Meat Imports From U.S.

China's decision to allow U.S. beef exports by mid-July could provide a windfall for American ranchers whose access to the $2.5 billion market has been restricted since 2003 because of a de facto import ban.

The U.S. Department of Commerce said beef produced in America that meets global food-safety standards will be allowed into China by no later than July 16. The move, which was first announced in September, will allow U.S. beef producers to compete with exporters from South America and Oceania in China.

U.S.-China Trade Plan Hinges on Beijing's Compliance

The U.S.-China pact on greater access to the Asian giant's economy relies in part on Beijing's pledge to open markets in two areas -- beef and electronic payments -- that it has repeatedly promised to open before, only to continue blocking American firms.

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The trade plan, which so far has no provision for settling disputes, puts a spotlight on broader complaints about Beijing's record of compliance with trade agreements. The U.S. and other major economies say China hasn't followed through with all of the commitments it made when it joined the World Trade Organization 15 years ago.

From North Dakota, Skepticism on US-China Beef Deal -- Market Talk

13:51 ET - The Trump administration touts its 10-point trade deal with China as a breakthrough for US beef producers, who have salivated at the prospect of recapturing part of China's burgeoning meat market after a 14-year shutout. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D., N.D.) wants to see some beef on a boat before celebrating: "While this deal is promising, China has made similar commitments before and has failed to follow through, continuing to block our beef since 2003," she says, making it "vital" to hold China to its pledge. (jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

STORIES OF INTEREST

Whole Foods: Don't Count Your Chickens -- Barron's Blog

Retailers are getting knocked down by weak earnings, but high-end grocer Whole Foods Market ( WFM) popped yesterday after it met forecasts and announced big changes to its board and a turnaround plan.

The enthusiasm hasn't lasted. The shares have given back those gains, falling 2.3% today to a recent $36.13.

Panera Brings Activism Expertise to Whole Foods Board -- Market Talk

14:26 ET - One of Whole Foods Market (WFM) new board members recently quelled an activism push, which it now faces. Panera Bread (PNRA) Chief Executive Ron Shaich dealt with shareholders who protested the fast-casual chain's hefty investments to upgrade its technology. He agreed to cut costs and take on debt to buy back more shares, but didn't back down from his technology upgrades. The company and investors say his quick action helped to avoid a proxy fight. (heather.haddon@wsj.com; @heatherhaddon)

FUTURES MARKETS

Cattle Futures Rally on Optimism Over U.S.-China Beef Accord

CHICAGO--Cattle futures bounced Friday after the Trump administration said it reached an agreement with Beijing to reopen the Chinese beef market to U.S. meat by this summer.

American ranchers and packers have long pushed for a deal that would resume U.S. beef exports to China, largely halted since 2003. China is the fastest-growing beef market in the world.

CASH MARKETS

Estimated U.S. Pork Packer Margin Index - May 12

All figures are on a per-head basis.

Date Standard Margin Estimated margin

Operating Index at vertically -

integrated operations

*

May 12 +$21.63 +$ 48.20

May 11 +$17.44 +$ 44.89

May 10 +$15.95 +$ 42.13

* 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 115.9

(Percent of Year-Ago) Select 111.1

USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Friday rose 83 cents per hundred pounds, to $247.69, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices fell $1.15 per hundred pounds, to $225.51. The total load count was 71. Wholesale pork prices rose $1.54, to $82.82 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 12, 2017 17:38 ET (21:38 GMT)