LIVESTOCK HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

Features Dow Jones Newswires

TOP STORIES

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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.

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.

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.

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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.

STORIES OF INTEREST

U.S. Stocks Up Ahead of Year's Final Trading Day

U.S. stocks edged higher Thursday, as major indexes regained some momentum ahead of the final trading day of the year.

The stock rally that has sent the S&P 500 up 20% this year went on hiatus in recent sessions. The S&P 500 has moved narrowly up and down this week, as the number of shares that traded hands each day was among the lowest full-day volumes of the year. The broad index failed to register a 0.5% move higher or lower over the last seven trading sessions, including on Thursday.

FUTURES 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.

CASH MARKETS

Zumbrota, Minn Hog Steady At $35.00 - Dec 28

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 $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 28

All figures are on a per-head basis.

Date Standard Margin Estimated margin

Operating Index at vertically -

integrated operations

*

Dec 28 +$35.00 +$ 35.79

Dec 27 +$34.79 +$ 33.38

Dec 26 +$36.14 +$ 32.80

* 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 101.9

(Percent of Year-Ago) Select 99.8

USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Thursday rose 68 cents per hundred pounds, to $202.28, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices rose 49 cents per hundred pounds, to $190.91. The total load count was 152. Wholesale pork prices rose $1.12, to $77.05 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

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