GRAIN HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

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Grain, Soybean Futures Climb Ahead of Dry Weekend

Grain and soybean futures mostly inched higher ahead of the weekend as traders refocused on weather problems.

Expectations earlier this week that some of the dryness and heat that stressed crops so far this growing season were easing prompted selling. But prices did a U-turn after less rain fell than expected.

Agriculture's Boost to Manufacturing Overlooked, USDA Says -- Market Talk

11:21 ET - Many of President Trump's NAFTA critiques revolve around shrinking US manufacturing jobs, but USDA Secretary Perdue says that as NAFTA renegotiations begin, growth in food- and agriculture-related processing often gets overlooked. "What I'm trying to do is persuade and demonstrate and inform the president and other negotiators how much of our manufacturing jobs are there because of agriculture and further-processed products," Perdue says. The USDA estimates that food, textile and tobacco manufacturing employs about 2.4 million people in the US, nearly as many jobs as farming and livestock production. (; @jacobbunge)

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USDA's Perdue: Mexico Not Acting on Ag Trade Shifts -- Market Talk

11:16 ET - USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue says he's hearing a lot of talk about Mexico shifting its purchases of US agricultural commodities to other countries, but not seeing much action so far. As President Trump has moved to renegotiate NAFTA after lambasting US-Mexico trade policy, Mexico has arranged agricultural trade missions to Brazil and Argentina, while dialing down imports of US-produced chicken, corn and soybean meal. Perdue, fresh off visiting with his Mexican counterpart, says "they may act as if they are having conversations," but "I did not get any indication they are seriously considering that." (; @jacobbunge)

Oil Gains on OPEC Cuts, Rising Demand

Oil prices rose every day this week, their best since December, as renewed optimism about falling supply and rising demand refuel a rally.

U.S. crude is bumping up against $50 for the first time in almost two months, retracing about half of the ground it lost during an unexpected selloff that started in March. Traders and analysts had widely predicted a rally toward $60 in part from continued demand growth and a new deal from exporters to cut output; these same factors are pushing oil higher now, though several months later than many expected.


Japan Beef Tariffs Shake Cattle Futures

Cattle futures slid after Japan said it was temporarily hiking tariffs on frozen beef imports from the U.S.

Japanese officials said on Friday they were raising duties on U.S. frozen beef exports to 50% from 38.5%.

Japan has become the largest international destination for U.S. beef, accounting for around a quarter of exports. With recent U.S. Department of Agriculture data forecasting growing U.S. cattle herds, analysts were concerned that disruption to beef exports could leave the domestic market oversupplied and depress prices.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 28, 2017 17:16 ET (21:16 GMT)