LIVESTOCK HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

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November Pork Belly Stocks Near Double from Year Earlier -- Market Talk

12:41 ET - Stocks of pork bellies in commercial freezers nearly doubled from a year earlier. Total frozen supplies of bellies, used to make bacon, rose to 36M pounds on Nov. 30, up 12% from October and 94% from the same time last year. Low belly reserves through much of 2017, a product of strong bacon demand, contributed to volatility in the broader hog market. Total supplies of pork and beef both fell from the previous month and a year earlier, a result of robust demand. (benjamin.parkin@wsj.com; @b_parkyn)

Hog Inventory Grows; Slaughter Herd Hits Record -- Market Talk

12:25 ET - The national hog herd is expected to rise in line with expectations next year. The total number of hogs and pigs on Dec. 1 rose to 73.2M head, 2% higher than the same time last year but slightly lower than the previous quarter. That was largely in line with analyst expectations. Hogs kept for breeding, an indication of anticipated supply growth, rose 1% from a year earlier while hogs kept for market, or slaughter, rose 2%. The market hog inventory was a quarterly record, coming amid growing US slaughter capacity. (benjamin.parkin@wsj.com; @b_parkyn)

Cattle Supplies Next Year Set to Exceed Expectations -- Market Talk

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12:23 ET - Cattle supplies are on track to rise more than expected in the first half of next year. The USDA says the number of cattle placed in feedlots for fattening in November rose 14% from a year earlier to 2.1M head, well above average prereport estimates of 6%. That's expected to strain cash market and futures prices when those cattle approach their requisite slaughter weights. Total cattle on feed on Dec. 1 rose 8% from a year earlier, also above expectations of 7%, while the number of cattle sent to slaughter in November matched expectations at 3%. (benjamin.parkin@wsj.com; @b_parkyn)

FUTURES MARKETS

Cattle, Hog Herds Growing Into Next Year

Commercial feedlots are fattening more cattle than expected, sparking concerns about an oversupply of beef next year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Friday that the number of cattle placed in feedlots for fattening in November rose 14% from the same time last year to 2.1 million head. That was well above average pre-report estimate of 6% and above the high range of expectations.

Cattle futures were mostly lower in the wake of the report. December-dated live cattle contracts rose 0.2%, to $1.198 a pound, at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Friday, while later-month contracts fell. CME January feeder cattle futures fell 0.8%, to $1.418 a pound.

Hog futures bounced after the report. CME February lean hog contracts rose 2.1%, to 70.025 cents a pound.

CASH MARKETS

Estimated U.S. Pork Packer Margin Index - Dec 22

All figures are on a per-head basis.

Date Standard Margin Estimated margin

Operating Index at vertically -

integrated operations

*

Dec 22 +$39.11 +$35.36

Dec 21 +$40.21 +$34.05

Dec 20 +$37.52 +$32.63

* 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 101.2

(Percent of Year-Ago) Select 101.1

USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Friday rose $1.44 per hundred pounds, to $199.56, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices rose $1.01 per hundred pounds, to $187.88. The total load count was 83. Wholesale pork prices rose 61 cents, to $76.85 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 22, 2017 17:33 ET (22:33 GMT)