LIVESTOCK HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

Features Dow Jones Newswires

TOP STORIES

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Farmers Mull 'Do-Over' After USDA Drops Meat Rules -- Market Talk

10:34 ET - Farm groups are looking ahead after the USDA announced Tuesday it would drop a batch of planned rules that would have made it easier for livestock and poultry producers to contest payment and treatment by meatpacking companies. "We encourage the agency to continue to work toward solutions that protect our farmers and ranchers from unjust practices and strengthen [USDA's] ability to enforce these issues," says Farm Bureau President Zippy Duvall, a Georgia chicken farmer, adding that some of the USDA's proposed rules were flawed. R-CALF USA, representing cattle ranchers, says it will call on President Trump to reverse the USDA's move and make good on campaign promises to rein in special interests. (jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

JBS Halts Work at 7 Brazilian Slaughterhouses Amid Tax Dispute

SAO PAULO -- Brazilian meat packing giant JBS SA said Wednesday it stopped the purchase and slaughter of cattle at seven abattoirs in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul after a local court froze about 730 million reais ($230 million) of assets belonging to it and its holding company. The asset freeze is related to a tax dispute between the companies and the state government, according to a spokeswoman for the state.

Supervalu Expanding Distribution Unit as Retail Sales Fall

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Supervalu Inc. said Wednesday that it will buy Associated Grocers of Florida for $180 million as it continues to bulk up its distribution operations to offset sagging sales at its retail stores. Supervalu's purchase of Associated Grocers, which includes debt, allow it to pick up a grocery cooperative that sells products to independent retailers in the U.S., but also in the Caribbean, Central and South America, and Asia. In its fiscal year ended July 29, Associated Grocers posted revenue of about $650 million, according to an estimate from Supervalu. Net sales in Supervalu's retail locations slid 1.1% to $1 billion as comparable sales retreated 3.5%. The company has shrunk its network of stores from about 1,500 in 2012 to around 200.

STORIES OF INTEREST

Danone to Combine Functions of Chairman, CEO

Danone SA (BN.FR) said Wednesday that its Chief Executive Emmanuel Faber will also serve as company chairman as of Dec. 1. The company's board of directors unanimously voted to combine the functions, Danone said. As chairman, Mr. Faber succeeds Franck Riboud, who becomes honorary chairman.

Chipotle Shares Fall on 3Q Concerns -- Market Talk

15:46 ET - Share of Chipotle fell more than 3% in afternoon trading after analysts issued bearish notes about the beleaguered burrito maker. Bank of America downgraded the stock to underperform from neutral due to concerns about weak traffic. Wedbush said it expects 3Q same-store sales to fall below the 2.2% growth rate analysts are predicting, as the chain's launch of queso dipping sauce didn't bring the traffic growth it had hoped. Some analysts now predict Chipotle won't move forward with a planned menu price increase. The chain has been recovering from a series of food safety incidents much more slowly than analysts had anticipated. Chipotle is scheduled to report 3Q earnings on Oct 24. (julie.jargon@wsj.com)

FUTURES MARKETS

Cattle Futures Rise; Traders Look for Cash Strength

Cattle futures turned higher as the week's cash trade started. Meatpackers paid $109 per 100 pounds for 230 head of live Kansas cattle at Wednesday morning's online Fed Cattle Exchange auction, which helps establish price direction for the week. October live cattle futures rose 0.3% to $1.11475 a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange after falling earlier this week.Hog futures rose Wednesday, regaining ground after a selloff on Tuesday. CME December lean hog futures rose 2.5% to 63.75 cents a pound. That was the highest close since Sept. 5.

CASH MARKETS

Zumbrota, Minn Hog $2.00 Higher At $37.00 - Oct 18

Barrow and gilt prices at the Zumbrota, Minn., livestock market today are $2.00 higher at $37.00 per hundredweight.

Sow prices are steady. Sows weighing under 450 pounds are $27.00, 400-450 pounds are at $27.00, 450-500 pounds are $27.00 and those over 500 pounds are $29.00-$31.00.

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 - Oct 18

All figures are on a per-head basis.

Date Standard Margin Estimated margin

Operating Index at vertically -

integrated operations

*

Oct 18 +$16.79 +$26.83

Oct 17 +$21.74 +$28.98

Oct 16 +$26.92 +$30.01

* 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 108.1

(Percent of Year-Ago) Select 110.3

USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Wednesday fell 40 cents per hundred pounds, to $197.26, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices fell 76 cents per hundred pounds, to $189.09. The total load count was 138. Wholesale pork prices fell $1.00, to $72.88 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 18, 2017 17:55 ET (21:55 GMT)