GRAIN HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

Features Dow Jones Newswires

TOP STORIES:

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Grain, Soybean Futures Fall as Traders Check Weather Bets

CHICAGO -- Grain and soybean futures fell Tuesday as traders booked profits on recent weather-related gains.

Excess rain across crop-growing regions of the U.S. has sparked concerns about a lasting impact on planting pace, crop condition and acreage. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Monday planting was progressing at a normal pace, while winter wheat condition posted a slight recovery.

Glencore Makes Takeover Approach to Bunge -- 4th Update

Glencore PLC said Tuesday it has approached grain trader Bunge Ltd. about a merger, a deal that would make the Swiss mining giant a major player in the U.S. agriculture market.

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In confirming the approach, Glencore said there is no certainty such a combination will materialize. If a deal does emerge, it would be substantial: Bunge had a market value earlier Tuesday of nearly $10 billion; including debt, its so-called enterprise value was about $15 billion. After The Wall Street Journal first reported on the approach, Bunge shares surged as much as 17%.

STORIES OF INTEREST:

Glencore Approach Could Sow Competition for Bunge -- Market Talk

14:42 ET - Glencore's takeover approach to Bunge (BG) could draw other agricultural giants onto the M&A field, says Philippe de Laperouse, managing director at consulting firm Highquest Partners and a former Bunge senior official. Bunge owns one of the most comprehensive networks of grain storage, transport and processing facilities in North and South America, and that could draw the eye of Chinese food giant Cofco, he says. Louis Dreyfus Commodities could also weigh a combination with Bunge, de Laperouse says, noting those companies had discussed such a move years in the past, though it didn't move forward. "All these people have danced with each other," he says. (jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

USDA Boss Warns of Agency Job Cuts -- Market Talk

13:02 ET - "There's no sugarcoating what we will face," USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue tells USDA staff in a video message after the Trump administration unveiled a budget proposal that would slash the agency's budget by around 21%, alongside reductions in Farm Bill program funding. "Such budgetary restrictions could possibly mean a reduction in staff," Perdue warns the USDA's roughly 100,000 employees, saying any reductions would initially come through "normal attrition, early retirements, and other least-disruptive means." Perdue says Trump is following through on campaign pledges to realign government spending, and advises USDA rank and file that "when you get in a bind, don't whine." (jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

Congressional Leaders Vow Budget Fight For Farmers -- Market Talk

09:24 ET - House Agriculture Committee Chairman Michael Conaway and Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts promise to go to bat for farmers in upcoming debates over a federal budget that proposes slashing funding for certain farm subsidies. "We will fight to ensure farmers have a strong safety net so this key segment of our economy can weather current hard times," the two congressional leaders say. The Trump administration's budget proposal comes while US farm incomes are expected to drop for a fourth straight year, and proposes $38B in spending cuts on subsidies for farmers. (jesse.newman@wsj.com; @jessenewman13)

THE MARKETS:

Lower Beef Prices Weigh on Cattle Futures

CHICAGO -- Cattle futures sank Tuesday as lower beef prices spurred bets that the market was unwinding from its seasonal peak.

Wholesale beef prices fell sharply Tuesday morning to $2.46 per pound from a little under $2.48 a pound on Monday. That added pressure to live cattle futures, with June contracts closing 0.7% lower at $1.23075 a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. August feeder cattle futures also fell.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 23, 2017 17:45 ET (21:45 GMT)