LIVESTOCK HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

Features Dow Jones Newswires

TOP STORIES

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Update: Chipotle Illness Complaints at LA Restaurant on Rise -- Market Talk

11:51 ET - The number of reports from people claiming to have gotten sick at a Los Angeles Chipotle on the consumer reporting site iwaspoisoned.com has risen to 17 from the five reported as of yesterday. In total, the complaints represent 20 diners. Chipotle says it's looking into the reports, which haven't been validated, and that it notified the LA County Health Department. "They inspected the restaurant and were pleased with our operations," a Chipotle spokesman says. The Los Angeles County health department says it's working to determine the cause of the reported illnesses. The restaurant in question has a good record with the health department, with just minor violations cited as of the last routine inspection in October. Chipotle shares are off 2%. (julie.jargon@wsj.com)

STORIES OF INTEREST

Slimmer Conagra Sees Growth in Store Brands

Conagra Brands Inc. returned to growth in its latest quarter as the pivot to a smaller but more focused food company aimed at consumers' lunch pails, pantries and snack bowls started to pay off.

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The company reported rising revenue across its four units and said recent hurricanes, which encouraged inventory buildups, boosted sales.

In all for the second quarter, the company posted a profit of $223.5 million, or 54 cents a share, up from $122.1 million, or 28 cents a share, a year earlier. On an adjusted basis, earnings per share were 55 cents. Revenue rose 4.1% to $2.17 billion.

Papa John's Founder to Step Down as CEO

Papa John's International Inc. founder John Schnatter is stepping down as CEO following a tumultuous few months at the pizza chain.

Mr. Schnatter will remain chairman, the Louisville, Ky.-based company said Thursday. Mr. Schnatter's fellow directors asked him to keep running the board but there is "no time limit" on his chairmanship, one person familiar with the company said.

FUTURES MARKETS

Livestock futures inched higher Thursday.

Traders were mostly positioning ahead of a series of government supply reports on Friday, analysts said. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is due to release cattle on-feed and cold storage reports for November, along with a quarterly hog-and-pig inventory report, at midday ET.

Market observers mostly expect the reports to confirm a growing supply outlook for early next year, with large numbers of cattle and hogs being fattened for slaughter. For cattle particularly, analysts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expect the total number of cattle on feed as of Dec. 1 to rise 6.7% from a year earlier, with cattle placed in lots in November up 5.8%.

Cattle futures for December rose 0.2% to $1.19625 a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Thursday after two consecutive days of losses.

Hog futures also rose Thursday, supported by higher cash and pork prices the prior day. CME February lean hog futures gained 0.3% to 68.575 cents a pound.

CASH MARKETS

Zumbrota, Minn Hog $1.00 Lower At $34.00 - Dec 21

Barrow and gilt prices at the Zumbrota, Minn., livestock market today are $1.00 lower at $34.00 per hundredweight.

Sow prices are $1.00 lower. Sows weighing 400-450 pounds are at $27.00-$28.00, 450-500 pounds are $27.00-$28.00 and those over 500 pounds are $30.00-$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 - Dec 21

All figures are on a per-head basis.

Date Standard Margin Estimated margin

Operating Index at vertically -

integrated operations

*

Dec 21 +$40.21 +$34.05

Dec 20 +$37.52 +$32.63

Dec 19 +$36.68 +$32.95

* 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 100.2

(Percent of Year-Ago) Select 101.7

USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Thursday rose 3 cents per hundred pounds, to $198.12, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices rose $1.38 per hundred pounds, to $186.87. The total load count was 103. Wholesale pork prices rose 66 cents, to $76.24 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 21, 2017 18:08 ET (23:08 GMT)