GRAIN HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

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Grain, Soybean Futures Trading Mixed

Grain and soybean futures were mixed Friday as traders positioned ahead of a government supply-and-demand report next week.

Traders were focused on whether the U.S. Department of Agriculture would lower its previous U.S. crop estimates on Tuesday. Analysts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expect the agency to trim its corn production estimate to 14 billion bushels, from 14.15 billion in August, while reducing its soybean haul forecast to 4.32 billion bushels from 4.38 billion.

Prereport jostling dominated Friday's trade.

Most-active December corn futures rose 0.4% to $3.56 3/4 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade. Most-active November soybean futures fell 0.7% to $9.62 a bushel. December wheat climbed 0.1% to $4.37 3/4 a bushel.

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USDA Expected to Snip Crop Production Forecasts

Analysts expect federal forecasters to trim their estimates for this season's corn and soybean harvest.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expected Tuesday to forecast U.S. soybean production of 4.32 billion bushels, down from 4.38 billion in August, along with a corn haul of 14 billion compared with 14.15 billion a month earlier.

Soybean yield is expected at 48.7 bushels per acre, versus 49.4 in August, with corn down to 167.8 from 169.5.

Kroger Shares Fall on Profit Drop -- 3rd Update

Kroger Co.'s profit fell sharply as the nation's largest supermarket chain slashed prices and invested in technology to keep up with rising competition among grocers.

The Cincinnati-based company said sales turned positive in its second quarter ended Aug. 12 and affirmed its profit view for the year. But Kroger's decision to suspend long-term earnings guidance spooked investors, and offered another sign of the grocery industry's volatile outlook. Kroger shares fell nearly 10% on Friday.

Kroger's profit of $353 million in its fiscal second quarter was down 8% from a year earlier, while adjusted net earnings per share plunged by 18%. The company confirmed full-year earnings guidance of $1.74 to $1.79 a share.

STORIES OF INTEREST:

Hedge Funds Increase Pessimism on Corn Prices -- Market Talk

16:31 ET - Hedge funds ramped up bets that corn prices would fall this week, according to CFTC data. Money managers extended their net short position in corn futures and options by 69% to 109,723 futures and options as of Tuesday, the regulator said. The increasing pessimism came amid a slew of government and private sector forecasts over the last month that showed the crop overcoming early weather troubles to produce another bumper harvest later this year. Large speculators also increased their net short position in wheat by 12% while cutting their soybean net short by almost 60% to 11,944 futures and options. (benjamin.parkin@wsj.com; @b_parkyn)

Monsanto to Exit Indian Cotton-Seed Business -- Market Talk

0419 GMT - Monsanto (MON) will sell its branded cotton-seed business in India, part of cost-cutting measures the world's largest seed supplier has laid out the past year to navigate a protracted slump in global agriculture industry. India's Tierra Agrotech has agreed to buy the business. MON will continue to sell corn and vegetable seeds and pesticides in India, one of the world's biggest agricultural markets. The company also maintains a JV with Mahyco, another Indian seed developer, that centers on developing biotech crop genes for cotton. But that business has been challenged after India last year implemented price controls. MON's India unit overall made up not-quite 1% of the company's FY16 sales; the past year's results are due in several weeks. (jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

Kraft Heinz Shakes Up Leadership -- Update

Kraft Heinz Co. is shuffling some of its top leaders as the packaged-food maker works to lift U.S. sales and continue cost-cutting efforts.

The maker of Jell-O pudding and Velveeta cheese on Friday said Chief Financial Officer Paulo Basilio, 42 years old, will transition to president of its U.S. business and his successor will be David Knopf, 29. Mr. Knopf is currently vice president of the Kraft Heinz's Planters business.

THE MARKETS:

Cattle Futures Climb to Multiweek High

Cattle futures rose to a three-week high despite ongoing pressure in cash and meat markets.

Live cattle futures for October delivery rose 1% to $1.07325 a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Friday, the highest close since Aug. 16.

Many are betting that cash prices for slaughter-ready cattle are bottoming. Most sales this week have been at $1.03 a pound live and $1.63 a pound dressed, down a couple of cents from last week. Still, analysts expect prices to stabilize as cattle supplies ease during the remainder of this year.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 08, 2017 17:51 ET (21:51 GMT)