LIVESTOCK HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

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TOP STORIES

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Leucadia Exploring Sale of Meat Processor National Beef

Leucadia National Corp. is exploring a sale of part or all of its stake in its National Beef Packing Co. unit, one of the biggest U.S. meat-processing companies, people familiar with the matter said. Leucadia owns a 79% stake in the Kansas City, Mo.-based beef giant, a 26-year-old supplier of steaks, hamburger and other beef products. A sale would see Leucadia exit a big bet on beef at a time when the industry is rebounding from a rough patch, thanks to rising consumer demand and cheap grain prices.

USDA's Perdue Praises Trump, Ag Department to Farmers -- Market Talk

13:55 ET - USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue touted accomplishments of the Trump administration and his own agency ahead of a planned presidential address to farmers at an annual trade convention. Perdue listed what he sees as trade victories, including opening China to American beef and rice, for farmers worried about the fate of Nafta. Speaking at a meeting of the American Farm Bureau Federation, he said USDA has begun rolling back burdensome regulations, targeting 27 rules that will save $56M annually, and urged farmers to flag the "silliest, most onerous rules" they think should be ditched. As for farmers' tax burden, Perdue tells the crowd that thanks to Trump's recent tax overhaul, "Help is not only on the way. It's already here." (jesse.newman@wsj.com; @jessenewman13)

STORIES OF INTEREST

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Trump Touts Tax Cut, Deregulation to Farmers -- Market Talk

17:16 ET - President Trump used a speech to farmers to highlight benefits of the GOP's tax overhaul, tout his deregulatory agenda and sign executive orders aimed at improving broadband access across rural America. Addressing farmers at an annual convention of the American Farm Bureau Federation, Trump called the recently passed tax cut "historic relief for farmers," saying family farms would be spared from a "deeply unfair estate tax," and told a welcoming crowd that he was "putting an end to the regulatory assault on your way of life." Signing two orders to expand internet connectivity in rural areas, he said: "You are going to have great, great broadband." (jesse.newman@wsj.com; @jessenewman13)

Darden: Tax Bill Will Boost EPS; Will Invest in Staff -- Market Talk

10:25 ET - Olive Garden parent Darden Restaurants expects this fiscal year to record a tax benefit of approximately $70M, or 56 cents per share from continuing operations, due to a revaluation of deferred tax assets and liabilities in the wake of the tax overhaul bill. In addition, Darden estimates that the impact of lower corporate tax rates will reduce its fiscal 2018 effective tax rate by 600 basis points. That, combined with the resolution of other tax matters unrelated to the tax overhaul bill, will result in an effective tax rate of 18% for fiscal 2018, down from 25%. The company says it will reinvest $20M of the savings in initiatives benefiting its workforce. As a result of the tax changes, Darden increased its EPS outlook from continuing operations for fiscal 2018 to $4.70 and $4.78, from $4.45 to $4.53. Shares slip 1.3%. (julie.jargon@wsj.com)

FUTURES MARKETS

Hog Futures Start Week Higher, Cattle Sag

Hog futures bounced to a multimonth high as traders responded to rising prices for physical pigs. Cash prices for slaughter-ready hogs rose for two consecutive weeks to $63.79 per 100 pounds on Friday, with market observers expecting steady to higher prices again on Monday.

CASH MARKETS

Zumbrota, Minn Hog $2.00 Higher At $40.00 - Jan 8

Barrow and gilt prices at the Zumbrota, Minn., livestock market today

are $2.00 higher at $40.00 per hundredweight.

Sow prices are $3.00-$4.00 higher. Sows weighing 400-450 pounds are at

$30.00-$32.00, 450-500 pounds are $30.00-$32.00 and those over 500 pounds

are $34.00-$36.00.

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 8

All figures are on a per-head basis.

Date Standard Margin Estimated margin

Operating Index at vertically -

integrated operations

*

Jan 8 +$19.11 +$ 36.13

Jan 5 +$23.54 +$ 38.50

Jan 4 +$25.50 +$ 36.33

* 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 104.3

(Percent of Year-Ago) Select 105.2

USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Monday rose 69 cents per hundred pounds, to $210.20, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices rose $1.05 per hundred pounds, to $203.37. The total load count was 103. Wholesale pork prices fell $1.10, to $77.21 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 08, 2018 18:10 ET (23:10 GMT)