LIVESTOCK HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

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TOP STORIES

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Amazon Puts Whole Foods on Fast Track to Conventional Supermarket -- Update

Whole Foods will change the way companies can sell and market their products in its stores beginning next year, one of the biggest moves yet in its push to operate more like a traditional market.

Under the changes planned for April, Whole Foods' 470 locations will no longer allow brand representatives to promote their products or check to make sure they are stocked and displayed correctly.

STORIES OF INTEREST

Rural-Economy Health Gauge Hits Lowest in 2017 -- Market Talk

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11:10 ET - A monthly gauge of rural economy health falls to its lowest point for the year, reflecting ongoing trouble in the US Farm Belt. The index, drawn from a survey of farm bankers in 10 states by Creighton University, in September fell to 39.6, the lowest level since December. Creighton says Midwestern lenders remain pessimistic about the farm economy thanks to concerns over low commodity prices, trade and a drought that struck parts of the Farm Belt this year. About 51% of bankers reported restructuring loans to farmers, according to Creighton, while nearly 19% say they've increased collateral requirements. Still, farm-loan defaults rise just 2.1% over the past year and delinquencies 4.1%. One Illinois banker says early harvest results indicate the state's crop will be 15% to 20% smaller than last year. "With this reduction and current low prices our farmers' incomes will be significantly less than 2016," he says. (jesse.newman@wsj.com; @jessenewman13)

Food Prices Key Factor In Brazil's Inflation Patterns -- Market Talk

08:13 ET - Brazilians have food prices to thank for a surprisingly fast reduction in inflation over the past year, the central bank said in its quarterly inflation report. Annual price increases neared 11% in January 2016, before plunging to 2.46% last month. Meanwhile, after expanding 9.4% in December 2016, food prices contracted 5.2% in August. "The favorable food-price dynamics since the fourth quarter of 2016 was an important contribution to inflation reduction," the bank said. A rebound on food-price increases is widely expected for 2018, the bank said, pushing inflation forecasts closer to the bank's 4.5% target. (paulo.trevisani@wsj.com; @ptrevisani)

FUTURES MARKETS

Hog Futures Fall on Supply Pressure

Hog futures fell to the lowest close this year on Thursday as meatpackers seized on low cash prices to slaughter swine at a record rate.

Two new pork packing plants that opened in the Midwest in September have increased U.S. pork processing capacity. That has sparked record-high slaughter numbers for this time of year without a corresponding increase in demand, said Craig VanDyke of Top Third Ag Marketing.

Hog futures on Thursday fell to a low for the year. October lean hog contracts at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange fell 2.3% to 57.325 cents a pound, the lowest close since Dec. 13. December-dated contracts fell 3.6% to 57.8 cents a pound.

CME October live cattle contracts fell 0.8% to $1.101 a pound.

CASH MARKETS

Zumbrota, Minn Hog Steady At $33.00 - Sep 21

Barrow and gilt prices at the Zumbrota, Minn., livestock market today are steady at $33.00 per hundredweight.

Sow prices are steady. Sows weighing under 450 pounds are $26.00-$28.00, 400-450 pounds are at $26.00-$28.00, 450-500 pounds are $26.00-$28.00 and those over 500 pounds are $30.00-$32.00.

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 - Sep 21

All figures are on a per-head basis.

Date Standard Margin Estimated margin

Operating Index at vertically -

integrated operations

*

Sep 21 +$44.76 +$26.61

Sep 20 +$49.54 +$33.08

Sep 19 +$47.92 +$33.32

* 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 103.2

(Percent of Year-Ago) Select 104.7

USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Thursday fell 53 cents per hundred pounds, to $191.51, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices fell 11 cents per hundred pounds, to $188.41. The total load count was 139. Wholesale pork prices fell $3.01, to $72.78 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 21, 2017 18:03 ET (22:03 GMT)