LIVESTOCK HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

Features Dow Jones Newswires

TOP STORIES

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Domestic Cattle Supply Growth Beats Expectations--Market Talk

15:34 ET - The US cattle herd grew more than expected as of June 1, according to the USDA's monthly cattle-on-feed report. The total number of cattle being fattened for slaughter climbed to 11.1M head on June 1, 3% higher than last year. The build up came as amid a surge in cash cattle prices in earlier this year, said Troy Vetterkind of Vetterkind Cattle Brokerage, adding that the larger numbers would likely weigh down values in the months to come. The number of cattle placed in commercial feedlots also rose 12% to 2.1M head in May, above expectations. The supply of market-ready cattle in May was also higher than expected at 2M, 9% above the same time last year. (benjamin.parkin@wsj.com; @b_parkyn)

Brazil Official Promises to Take Necessary Measures to Resume Beef Exports to U.S. -- Update

SÃO PAULO -- Brazil's agriculture minister promised Friday to take the measures necessary to reopen the U.S. market after the U.S. Department of Agriculture suspended imports of Brazilian beef over concerns about its safety.

The decision by the USDA, announced Thursday, came after Brazil suspended beef exports to the U.S. from five Brazilian slaughterhouses. Some of the beef from those abattoirs was found to have abscesses caused by a vaccine against hoof-and-mouth disease. Brazil's agriculture ministry said the abscesses aren't a health risk.

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Shares of Brazil Meatpackers JBS, Marfrig, Minerva Decline After U.S. Suspends Beef Imports

SÃO PAULO--Shares of Brazilian meatpackers JBS SA, Marfrig Global Foods SA and Minerva SA declined Friday after the U.S. Department of Agriculture said late Thursday it had suspended imports of fresh beef from the South American country because of concerns over its safety.

The decision by the USDA came after Brazil suspended beef exports to the U.S. from five Brazilian slaughterhouses. Beef from those abattoirs was found to have abscesses caused by a vaccine against hoof-and-mouth disease.

Shares of JBS, the world's biggest animal protein producer, declined 2.2% shortly after the start of trading. Marfrig fell 1.5%, and Minerva shed 2.2%.

STORIES OF INTEREST

Sanderson Farms Defends Its Chicken as 'Natural' -- Market Talk

14:20 ET - Sanderson Farms (SAFM) comes out swinging against a lawsuit that claims its chicken contains antibiotics, pharmaceuticals, steroids and other harmful products. SAFM flatly rejects the claims with one exception, adding that company veterinarians on rare occasions prescribe penicillin to treat sick poultry flocks. However, SAFM says there is a withdrawal period between the time the medicine is administered and when the flock is harvested. The groups suing SAFM are seeking a court order enjoining the company from advertising products as "100% Natural." SAFM says it plans to continue its marketing campaigns in the interim. Shares rise 1% to $124.50. (bowdeya.tweh@wsj.com; @BowKnowsBiz)

A Better Cheddar Benchmark? A Daily Cheese Auction Is Going Electronic

People wearing colored jackets in Chicago will be shouting at each other about cheese for the final time on Friday.

A daily 10-minute auction in Chicago that helps set the national price of cheese is going electronic next week, after being held in a traditional open-outcry format for decades. CME Group, the exchange giant that oversees the auction, will run it Friday in its old form for the last time.

FUTURES MARKETS

Cattle Futures Firmer on Tighter Beef Stocks

CHICAGO--Cattle futures bounced on Friday after a week of selling that saw prices fall to multimonth lows.

The cattle market got a boost from a U.S. Department of Agriculture report released Thursday showing a drawdown in frozen beef stocks in commercial freezers in May. Beef stocks were at 412.9 million pounds, down 10% from April and 11% from the same time last year.

Cash cattle prices were a "disaster" this week, said Dennis Smith of Archer Financial Services in Chicago. Packers paid $1.19 a pound for live cattle on Thursday, according to the USDA, down from $1.23 earlier in the week. That compares with averages of around $1.36 a pound two weeks ago.

CASH MARKETS

Estimated U.S. Pork Packer Margin Index - Jun 23

All figures are on a per-head basis.

Date Standard Margin Estimated margin

Operating Index at vertically -

integrated operations

*

Jun 23 +$25.00 +$86.08

Jun 22 +$21.22 +$82.92

Jun 21 +$21.89 +$85.07

* 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 110.4

(Percent of Year-Ago) Select 109.3

USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Friday fell $3.13 per hundred pounds, to $239.75, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices fell 20 cents per hundred pounds, to $216.72. The total load count was 85. Wholesale pork prices rose $1.47, to $100.44 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 23, 2017 17:18 ET (21:18 GMT)