LIVESTOCK HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

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TOP STORIES

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Cargill Mulls Meat Deals as Portfolio Shifts

After revamping its sprawling food and agriculture portfolio, Cargill Inc. is considering acquisitions.

The Minnesota agribusiness giant is looking at deals in the meat sector and would weigh acquisitions of grain-trading businesses, Chief Financial Officer Marcel Smits said.

"The global poultry market, that's still a very low-concentrated industry," he said. "We think there's significant opportunity for us to grow." He wouldn't comment on specific acquisition targets.

Meat Sales Boost Cargill Profits -- Market Talk

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9:31 ET - Cargill said swift sales of hamburgers and chicken nuggets helped lift the agricultural conglomerate's full-year profits to the highest level since 2009. The Minneapolis-based company reported fiscal 4Q profits surged to $347M from $15M for the year-ago period, as retail and export demand boosted its US beef business, while its Asian chicken division shipped more meat abroad and European consumers bought more of Cargill's fresh poultry. Earnings also grew in Cargill's cocoa business and its grain-trading division swung to a profit for the quarter. Net earnings for the full year rose 19% to $2.84B. (jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

STORIES OF INTEREST

Sharp Grain, Soybean Selling on Better Weather

Grain and soybean futures fell sharply Thursday as traders raced out of bets that weather troubles would affect this year's harvest.

Most actively traded contracts for major crops fell over 4%, erasing much of a recent weather-related rally. A benevolent turn in forecasts overnight on Thursday, with longer-term models showing more rain and cooler temperatures, intensified the selling that began after the U.S. Department of Agriculture released what was widely perceived as a negative report for prices on Wednesday.

Hedge funds and other money managers helped spur the selling, said Charlie Sernatinger, head of grain trading at ED&F Man Capital. Corn futures in particular were "crashing and burning all session long," he said.

U.S. Farmers Have a Lot to Gain From China's Flagging Production

A string of agricultural overhauls has set up China to import more grains and other commodities, with significant consequences for global markets.

Over the past three years, China has abolished guaranteed minimum prices for cotton, soybeans, corn and sugar, causing domestic production of those staples to drop. Grain production fell in 2016 for the first time in 13 years, and production of sugar and cotton has fallen by more than a quarter in the past three years.

FUTURES MARKETS

Livestock Futures Trade Sideways on Price Consolidation

Livestock futures were mixed as traders consolidated recent gains.

Higher-than-expected cattle sales in the cash trade sparked a rally in the futures market on Wednesday. An uptick in prices, first at an online auction and then in follow-up sales, sent futures to the top of their daily trading band.

Cash-market trade was quiet on Thursday, however, with some sales of $1.20 a pound live in Iowa and $1.90 a pound dressed in Nebraska. That left futures traders reluctant to take prices too far from the prior day's close.

CASH MARKETS

Zumbrota, Minn Hog Steady At $57.00 - Jul 13

Barrow and gilt prices at the Zumbrota, Minn., livestock market today are

steady at $57.00 per hundredweight.

Sow prices are steady. Sows weighing under 450 pounds are $59.00, 400-450 pounds

are at $59.00, 450-500 pounds are $59.00 and those over 500 pounds are

$61.00-$63.00.

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 - Jul 13

All figures are on a per-head basis.

Date Standard Margin Estimated margin

Operating Index at vertically -

integrated operations

*

Jul 13 +$28.34 +$ 92.19

Jul 12 +$32.77 +$ 95.69

Jul 11 +$31.41 +$ 95.52

* 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 101.7

(Percent of Year-Ago) Select 100.6

USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Thursday fell $2.84 per hundred pounds, to $209.85, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices fell $1.47 per hundred pounds, to $197.26. The total load count was 256. Wholesale pork prices fell $1.63, to $103.28 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 13, 2017 17:25 ET (21:25 GMT)