LIVESTOCK HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

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TOP STORIES

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Pork Profits to Perk Up for Hormel -- Market Talk

10:16 ET - After a turbulent fall, next year looks to bring improved profitability for US pork suppliers. Per-hog profit margins for Hormel Foods, the Spam king, shriveled in October as new, large-scale pork plants drew more hogs into their orbit, Vertical Group analysts say. That put more pork on the market, and also forced established processors like Hormel to scramble to secure hogs, pressuring profit margins. Hormel since then has said it will dial back hog slaughtering in the coming year, and investors have piled back into the shares, boosting Hormel nearly 23% since the start of November -- though the stock's only up about 6.2% year-to-date. Vertical Group raises its full-year profit estimate for Hormel, while noting the company's turkey business continues to struggle against an oversupply of birds. (jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

Casual Eateries Up After Darden's Sales Beat -- Market Talk

12:27 ET - Full-service restaurant chain operators are riding the tailwinds of a cheery report by Olive Garden owner Darden Restaurants. Darden reported higher-than-expected same-store sales across most of its brands due to higher traffic and higher prices, which could signal consumers are more willing to spend their dollars at restaurant chains without being lured by promotions. Outback Steakhouse operator Bloomin' Brands and Applebee's owner DineEquity up 1.3% and 1.7%, respectively, while Darden jumps 5.6%. (imani.moise@wsj.com; @moisenoise)

STORIES OF INTEREST

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Soybean Futures Fall to Multi-Month Low

Soybean futures fell to an 11-week low as wetter South American weather intensified concerns about oversupply. Oilseed contracts for January delivery fell 0.6% to $9.56 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade, the lowest close since Oct. 3. Prices rose overnight before turning lower.

FUTURES MARKETS

Hog, Pork Supplies Squeeze Futures

Hog futures fell on Tuesday as lower pork and physical pig prices weighed down the market. Cash prices for slaughter-ready hogs have fallen through much of December as large average hog weights allowed meatpackers to lower their bids. Cash prices on Monday fell 8 cents to $56.05 per 100 pounds, and were expected steady to lower again on Tuesday.

CASH MARKETS

Zumbrota, Minn Hog Steady At $35.00 - Dec 19

Barrow and gilt prices at the Zumbrota, Minn., livestock market today

are steady at $35.00 per hundredweight.

Sow prices are steady. Sows weighing 400-450 pounds are at $28.00-$29.00,

450-500 pounds are $28.00-$29.00 and those over 500 pounds are $31.00-$33.00.

The day's total run is estimated at 250 head.

Prices are provided by the Central Livestock Association.

Estimated U.S. Pork Packer Margin Index - Dec 19

All figures are on a per-head basis.

Date Standard Margin Estimated margin

Operating Index at vertically -

integrated operations

*

Dec 19 +$36.68 +$ 32.95

Dec 18 +$36.64 +$ 31.28

Dec 15 +$38.46 +$ 35.02

* 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 103.7

(Percent of Year-Ago) Select 101.8

USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Tuesday fell $1.39 per hundred pounds, to $201.76, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices fell 69 cents per hundred pounds, to $184.32. The total load count was 148. Wholesale pork prices rose 78 cents, to $75.73 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 19, 2017 17:28 ET (22:28 GMT)