LIVESTOCK HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

Features Dow Jones Newswires

TOP STORIES

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Justice Department Clears Way for Dow-DuPont Merger

Dow Chemical Co. and DuPont Co. said Thursday their delayed merger has won approval from the U.S. Justice Department, clearing the way for the deal to close without further divestitures.

The deal, initially announced in December 2015, has faced delays as antitrust regulators sought reams of information concerning the companiesÂ’ competing businesses in insecticides, weed killers and crop seeds.

Kroger Shares Slide as Grocer Is Battered by Price Fight -- 3rd Update

Traditional U.S. grocers came under fresh pressure on Thursday after the biggest one, Kroger Co., said intensifying competition would further cut into earnings this year.

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Kroger's shares fell 18%, on track for their steepest one-day drop in more than 17 years, as the company reported lower sales at longstanding stores for the second straight quarter and cut its earnings outlook. Shares in other big food retailers also fell on the news.

Another Batista Flies the Coop at Pilgrim's Pride -- Market Talk

11:57 ET - Wesley Batista, CEO of embattled Brazilian meatpacking giant JBS SA, steps down from the board of Pilgrim's Pride (PPC), the US poultry processor majority-owned by JBS, as efforts continue to contain fallout from Brazilian corruption scandals. Colorado-based PPC says Batista resigned effective immediately and will be replaced on PPC's board with Denilson Molina, CFO of JBS' US foods division. In late May Batista's brother Joesley also left PPC's board, after negotiating a plea deal with prosecutors in Brazil related to corruption investigations involving politicians there, including President Michel Temer. PPC down 1.8%, but shares have soared 26% so far this year thanks to fat profits in the chicken business. (jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

STORIES OF INTEREST

Hain Celestial Faces Deadline: Report Earnings or Be Delisted -- Update

For more than a year, organic food company Hain Celestial Group Inc., has struggled to deliver a basic requirement expected from publicly traded companies: regular earnings reports.

Its problems started last summer when it discovered revenue irregularities and said it couldn't release financial results until it analyzed the mistakes.

Japan's Butter Supplies Rise as Consumption Falls -- Market Talk

0446 GMT - Japan's butter inventory supply is up 32% on year due to relatively flat butter consumption and substantial butter imports, says the US Department of Agriculture in a note. This reverses a trend that has seen Japan suffer from butter shortages for the past 3 years. The USDA adds that only 70% of the butter tendered in 2017 by the government has been bought, which is "an indication of the current stability in the Japanese butter market." However, the USDA notes that Japan is importing more non-fat dry milk over the next 9 months to meet demand after domestic production fell. (lucy.craymer@wsj.com; @lucy_craymer)

FUTURES MARKETS

Hog Futures Drop as Summer Supply Grows

CHICAGO -- Hog futures fell on Thursday, reversing course as traders bet that prices had hit a seasonal peak.

Lean hog futures for July delivery fell 0.6% to 82.05 cents a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange after opening higher.

Cattle futures were mixed, however, making some recovery after a sharp selloff the previous session. CME August feeder cattle futures climbed 0.7% to $1.47075 a pound, initially boosted by lower corn contracts. Cheaper corn helps reduce the costs of the feed needed to fatten the younger cattle.

CASH MARKETS

Zumbrota, Minn Hog $1.00 Higher At $52.00 - Jun 15

Barrow and gilt prices at the Zumbrota, Minn., livestock market today are $1.00 higher at $52.00 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 $41.00-$43.00.

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 - Jun 15

All figures are on a per-head basis.

Date Standard Margin Estimated margin

Operating Index at vertically -

integrated operations

*

Jun 15 +$15.35 +$72.73

Jun 14 +$18.79 +$73.50

Jun 13 +$24.88 +$73.18

* 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 109.4

(Percent of Year-Ago) Select 108.1

USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Thursday fell $1.29 per hundred pounds, to $249.74, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices fell 13 per hundred pounds, to $220.53. The total load count was 126. Wholesale pork prices fell 36 cents, to $94.23 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 15, 2017 17:38 ET (21:38 GMT)