LIVESTOCK HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

Features Dow Jones Newswires

TOP STORIES

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More Fresh Beef, Stock Split Could be on McDonald's Menu -- Market Talk

12:13 ET - McDonald's might extend the use of fresh, rather than frozen, beef to more of its burgers, according to Instinet. The chain already has announced that it will complete the nationwide rollout of fresh beef in its quarter-pound burgers by mid-2018, but now McDonald's is testing new Archburgers made with fresh beef in seven restaurants. Instinet predicts the chain may extend fresh beef to its other burgers, including the Big Mac. Instinet also predicts McDonald's stock could split this year for the first time since 1999. (julie.jargon@wsj.com)

Growing Chicken Flocks Seen Pressuring Meat Prices -- Market Talk

11:47 ET - Shares of chicken processors head lower after Jefferies analysts forecast US flocks could rise twice as much in 2018 compared to earlier projections by the USDA and top poultry executives. The firm says meat companies are placing more chicks onto farms, and that breeder birds remain highly productive, which could translate to more chicken coming to market. Jefferies figures chicken meat pricing could decline 3%-10% in 2018 versus a 7% increase last year, prompting the firm to reduce profit expectations for Pilgrim's Pride and Sanderson Farms, helping push shares down 3.7% and 3.5% respectively. Tyson Foods slips 0.7%. (jacob.bunge@wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

STORIES OF INTEREST

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Wheat Futures Higher on Freeze Concerns

Grain and soybean futures started the year with a bounce, helped higher by concerns over weather in the Americas.

Contracts for winter wheat led gains as traders fretted that freezing temperatures in the central U.S. had damaged the crop.

Organic Milk Glut Means Tough Times for Farmers -- Market Talk

1157 ET - Organic dairy processors are slashing the prices they pay to producers amid a buildup in organic milk supplies. Unlike many conventional dairy farmers, organic producers often operate on longer-term contracts with processors that offer a more stable price for their milk. Now, as supplies balloon, organic producers are watching those contracts shrink in value as processors turn away excess milk and renegotiate lower prices. "We don't have the processing capacity" for the extra milk, say Tom Bailey of Rabobank, prompting the recontracting. (benjamin.parkin@wsj.com ; @b_parkyn)

Plant-Based Milk Beverages Gaining Shelf Space -- Market Talk

11:16 ET - Competition from new alternatives to conventional dairy, including milk from grass-fed cows and nondairy options like almond and cashew "milk," is growing as consumers increasingly perceive it as being healthier. Kroger is shifting more shelf space from organic milk to nondairy and plant-based alternatives. Wal-Mart officials say they have seen demand for plant-based beverages grow, while organic milk isn't on the same upswing that it once was. (heather.haddon@wsj.com; @heatherhaddon)

FUTURES MARKETS

Cattle Futures Climb Into 2018

Cattle futures resumed a rally from last week as traders followed cash prices higher.

The futures market had rallied to a multi-week high last week before falling in the final trading session of 2017. Live cattle futures for February rose 1.5% to $1.2335 a pound when they resumed trading at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Tuesday. Contracts for feeder cattle were also higher.

CASH MARKETS

Zumbrota, Minn Hog Steady At $35.00 - Jan 2

Barrow and gilt prices at the Zumbrota, Minn., livestock market today are steady at $35.00 per hundredweight. Sow prices are steady to $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 $29.00.

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 - Jan 2

This report reflects U.S. pork packer processing margins. The margin indices

are calculated using current cash hog or carcass values and wholesale pork

cutout values and may not reflect actual margins at the plants. These

estimates reflect the general health of the industry and are not meant to

be indicative of any particular company or plant.

Source: USDA, based on Wall Street Journal calculations

All figures are on a per-head basis.

Date Standard Margin Estimated margin

Operating Index at vertically -

integrated operations

*

Jan 2 +$34.10 +$ 36.65

Dec 29 +$37.37 +$ 36.97

Dec 28 +$35.00 +$ 35.79

* 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 101.6

(Percent of Year-Ago) Select 101.8

USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Tuesday rose $2.24 per hundred pounds, to $205.14, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices rose $3.59 per hundred pounds, to $196.57. The total load count was 103. Wholesale pork prices fell 15 cents, to $77.45 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 02, 2018 17:29 ET (22:29 GMT)