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LIVESTOCK HIGHLIGHTS : Top Stories of the Day

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03/08/2018 | 11:23pm CEST

TOP STORIES

After TPP, Canada Eyes Trade Pact With Mercusor -- Market Talk

1427 ET - Canadian Trade Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne heads to Paraguay Friday to launch a formal free-trade talks with the Latin American trading bloc known as Mercusor. The bloc is comprised of Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay. In conference call with reporters, Champagne said the Mercusor market would a new market of about $300 million for Canadian goods and services. He acknowledged Canada has had trouble getting access to this market due to numerous nontariff barriers. "In these negotiations, we want to make sure we get an ambitious agreement on the progressive side, but one that's meaningful on goods and services," he said. Canada and Brazil have a history of trade skirmishes, largely over aerospace and beef -- most recently focusing on Montreal's Bombardier and allegations the company benefited unfairly from government financing. (paul.vieira@wsj.com, @paulvieira)

STORIES OF INTEREST

Global Buyers Hungry for US Corn -- Market Talk

12:50 ET - Corn futures bounce on a supply-and-demand outlook that beat expectations. The USDA says that exporters will sell 2.225B bushels of corn this year, 175M bushels above its previous estimate. That's a result of "US price competitiveness, record-high outstanding sales, and reduced exports for Argentina," the agency says. That demand will help dent the domestic corn glut, cutting this year's projected stocks well more than expected. The USDA's latest supply-and-demand outlook for corn is "outrageously bullish," says Charlie Sernatinger of ED&F Man. CBOT March corn futures rise 1.3% to $3.84 a bushel. (benjamin.parkin@wsj.com; @b_parkyn)

Kroger Shares Drop on Skepticism Over Online Investments

Kroger Co.'s stock dropped 12% on Thursday as the grocer's investment in online operations to compete with Walmart Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and other retailers cut into profit and disappointed investors looking for higher share buybacks and dividends.

The largest U.S. supermarket chain is struggling to invest in online operations and introduce new products at its 2,800 stores while also generating enough profit to keep investors happy.

FUTURES MARKETS

Lower Meat Prices Pressure Livestock Markets

Hog futures were mixed on Thursday as pork prices fell.

Meatpackers sold wholesale pork for sharply lower prices on Wednesday and Thursday morning, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Prices for pork bellies, which are used to make bacon, fell around $10 on both days to a low of $96.75 per 100 pounds. That dragged broader pork prices lower too.

CASH MARKETS

 
Zumbrota, Minn Hog Steady At $40.00 - Mar 8 
 
  Barrow and gilt prices at the Zumbrota, Minn., livestock market are 
steady at $40.00 per hundredweight. 
 
  Sow prices are steady. Sows weighing 400-450 pounds are at $38.00-$40.00, 
450-500 pounds are $38.00-$40.00 and those over 500 pounds are $43.00-$45.00. 
 
The day's total run is estimated at 200 head. 
 
Prices are provided by the Central Livestock Association. 
 
Estimated U.S. Pork Packer Margin Index - Mar 8 
 
All figures are on a per-head basis. 
 
Date     Standard Margin       Estimated margin 
         Operating Index         at vertically - 
                             integrated operations 
                                      * 
Mar 8        +$16.56             +$ 26.52 
Mar 7        +$18.55             +$ 29.62 
Mar 6        +$25.35             +$ 35.68 
 
* 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  103.9 
      (Percent of Year-Ago)     Select  103.7 
 
USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports 

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Thursday rose 31 cents per hundred pounds, to $223.88, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices rose $1.58 per hundred pounds, to $216.78. The total load count was 96. Wholesale pork prices fell $1.44, to $72.74 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.

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