LIVESTOCK HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

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TOP STORIES

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US Hog Inventory Rises to Record -- Market Talk

15:15 ET - The national hog and pig herd rose to 73.5M head as of Sept. 1, the USDA says, up 3% from June and 2% from the same time last year. That's a record high for this time of year, coming as cheap feed prices and new slaughter plants encourage farmers to expand their operations. Many analysts were expecting to see a larger increase, however. Herds kept for breeding rose 1% from a year earlier while market hog inventories rose 3%, both within the range of estimates. The market hog herd was also a record for this time of year. (benjamin.parkin@wsj.com; @b_parkyn)

Conagra Beats As It Continues Company Revamp -- Market Talk

8:28 ET - Conagra Brands beats estimates in its F1Q, posting adjusted EPS of 46c when analysts expected 40c. CEO Sean Connolly says gross margins are expanding despite higher-than-expected inflation and a plan to spend more on shelf space for new products. Net sales decreased 4.8% from a year ago, with 50 basis points of the drop attributable to increased slotting fees. Conagra, whose brands include Slim Jim and Reddi-wip, said last week it will buy Angie's Artisan Treats, the maker of BOOMCHICKAPOP popcorn, as part of its revamp effort centered around smaller, trendier brands. Conagra shares, down 16% this year, are inactive premarket. (cara.lombardo@wsj.com; @CaraRLombardo)

STORIES OF INTEREST

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McDonald's Carries the Dow Higher -- Market Talk

15:09 ET - A rally in shares of McDonald's is helping the Dow Jones Industrial Average stay afloat. McDonald's was recently up 2.4% to $157.78, contributing roughly 26 points to the blue-chip index's 33 point gain. The likely catalyst for the move: an analyst upgrade. Earlier, Longbow Research upgraded McDonald's to buy from neutral, citing the company's "ongoing turnaround story both in the U.S. and internationally." (akane.otani@wsj.com; @akaneotani)

Kellogg CEO John Bryant to Step Down

Kellogg Co. chose an outsider as its new chief executive, becoming the fifth major food and beverage company to name a new leader in a tumultuous year for the industry.

Steven Cahillane, the 52-year-old CEO of health-and-wellness company Nature's Bounty Co. and a former Coca-Cola Co. executive, will succeed Kellogg CEO John Bryant next week.

FUTURES MARKETS

U.S. Hog Herd Rises to Quarterly Record

The national hog herd rose to a quarterly record in September, suggesting heavy supplies for the remainder of the year even as inventories ease in early 2018.

October lean hog futures at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange rose 0.3%, to 55.55 cents a pound, before the report on Thursday, while the most-active December contract tumbled 2.3%, to 58.275 cents a pound.

CASH MARKETS

Zumbrota, Minn Hog Steady At $30.00 - Sep 28

Barrow and gilt prices at the Zumbrota, Minn., livestock market today are steady at $30.00 per hundredweight.

Sow prices are steady. Sows weighing under 450 pounds are $27.00-$28.00, 400-450 pounds are at $27.00-$28.00, 450-500 pounds are $27.00-$28.00 and those over 500 pounds are $29.00-$30.00.

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 28

All figures are on a per-head basis.

Date Standard Margin Estimated margin

Operating Index at vertically -

integrated operations

*

Sep 28 +$46.50 +$24.80

Sep 27 +$46.81 +$24.91

Sep 26 +$47.09 +$25.30

* 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 104.4

(Percent of Year-Ago) Select 105.3

USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Thursday rose $1.11 per hundred pounds, to $196.41, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices fell 80 cents per hundred pounds, to $189.11. The total load count was 128. Wholesale pork prices fell 5 cents, to $71.94 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 28, 2017 18:00 ET (22:00 GMT)