GRAIN HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

Features Dow Jones Newswires

TOP STORIES:

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Weather Rallies Sputter in Soybean, Wheat Futures

The biggest U.S. agricultural markets closed lower Thursday after recent rallies driven by weather concerns ran out of steam.

Soybean futures posted the biggest decline, falling 1% at the Chicago Board of Trade after weather forecasters predicted some rain ahead for major Argentine growing regions. Those forecasts reversed concerns earlier this week that heat and dryness could cut into the country's oilseed production, which had helped to boost soybean futures markets after several weeks of declines.

The Transformation of the American Farm

The American farm has been transformed. During the first half of the 20th century, farmers raised a mix of crops and livestock on a few hundred acres of land. These days, most farmers specialize in a few, or even just one product, on much bigger spreads. That focus has helped farmers reap bigger profits, but it also can leave them exposed -- a swing in one commodity's price, a blight or bad weather can be devastating.

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In 1900 nearly all farms had animals. By the turn of the 21st century, fewer than 10% of farms had milk cows, hogs or chickens, even as the U.S. produced more meat than ever. Grain production also shifted to a smaller number of farms. By 2010, just one in six farmers raised corn.

STORIES OF INTEREST:

Oil Prices Edge Higher as Refiners Tap U.S. Stockpiles

Oil prices edged higher Thursday as refiners processed more crude from storage in the U.S.

U.S. crude prices approached the $60 a barrel milestone they briefly reached earlier this week, but stopped short, rising 20 cents, or 0.34%, to $59.84 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent rose 28 cents, or 0.42% to $66.72 a barrel on ICE Futures Europe.

Canada Takes Lumber Fight with US to WTO -- Market Talk

12:52 ET - Canada said Tuesday it took yet another step in its legal fight against US duties on Canadian softwood lumber by filing a request for consultations with World Trade Organization. This marks the first step in launching a formal complaint against Trump administration with WTO. If Canada and US can't resolve the matter in next 60 days, a WTO-appointed panel will be asked to rule on Canada's case. In statement, Canada reiterated that the US decision to slap tariffs of roughly 20% or more on Canadian lumber imports was "unfair, unwarranted and deeply troubling." Going to the WTO follows on Canada's request for dispute-resolution panel under Nafta to rule on US softwood duties, and indicates Ottawa and Washington are digging in for long fight on lumber--against the backdrop of contention Nafta negotiations. (paul.vieira@wsj.com; @paulvieira)

THE MARKETS:

The Cattle Futures Rally Continues

Buoyant consumer demand, cold weather and slowing production all helped U.S. cattle futures test contract highs Thursday.

The cold snap is pressuring animal weights, and slaughter levels have tempered compared with a year ago, with output in the first quarter of next year now forecast to be well below the historical norm.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 28, 2017 17:40 ET (22:40 GMT)