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LIVESTOCK HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day



Beef Retail Price Highest Since 2014 -- Market Talk

12:16 ET - Retail prices for beef in December were $6.09 per pound on average, 4.4% higher than they were a year ago, according to USDA data. This is the highest that December retail beef prices have been since 2014. "Higher wholesale beef prices in November, especially the big jump in the value of end cuts, likely caused retailers to mark up beef items in the meat case," says Steiner Consulting Group. This may indicate higher consumer demand for beef, but could be bad news for traders hoping for China to take more beef exports as a result of the US-China trade deal. "Higher retail prices will likely make beef less competitive versus other proteins," says the firm. Live cattle futures on the CME are down 0.2% in trading Friday. (; @kirkmaltais)


Cracks Are Showing in This Egg-Saturated Chinese Market

New cracks have appeared in China's egg market, the result of an uptick in production and a drop in meat prices at the end of 2019.

Since November, prices of one-month egg futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange have fallen 45% to about 2983 yuan ($433.73) a metric ton. That means they have largely erased an 81% gain last year that followed increases in pork and other meat prices in China.




Beyond Meat Stock Has Surged, but Competitors Have Their Knives Out --

Wall Street analysts are reacting to Beyond Meat stock's epic run -- mostly with skepticism despite an improving sales outlook.

Friday , Credit Suisse analyst Robert Moskow increased his price target for shares of the protein-industry disrupter to $125 from $115. Moskow, however, maintained his Hold rating on Beyond Meat (ticker: BYND) stock. He's impressed with the company's execution in expanding production capacity and distribution. But concerns about faux-meat competition remain. (Earlier in the week, Bernstein analyst Alexia Howard cut her rating to Hold from Buy.)


Agri Markets are Underestimating Potential Pickup in U.S. Exports to China: JPM -- Market Talk

1129 GMT - Soybean prices slip in Chicago, extending their recent decline as traders continue to respond negatively to the U.S.-China deal. Down 0.1% at $9.23 a bushel, soybean futures are on course to lose 2.5% over the course of the week. Agricultural markets are "seeking proof of U.S. export demand," says Tracey Allen of JP Morgan. But Allen thinks traders are underestimating the extent to which American exports to China are likely to rise, which could lift prices in the coming months. She expects China to import 90 million metric tons of soybeans in total this year. "To reach this target, particularly at a time when China's hog herd will likely shift into an expansionary mode, will require sizeable imports from Brazil, as well as the U.S." (


The U.S. Hasn't Planted This Little Wheat in More Than a Century

The last time that U.S. farmers planted so few acres with winter wheat, William Howard Taft was president and the opening salvos of World War I were still five years away.

About 30.8 million acres were planted with winter wheat this season, down 1% from the year before and not much more than the roughly 29.2 million acres that were seeded in 1909, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.




Hog Futures Finish Day With Gain -- Market Talk

15:39 ET - Lean hogs futures climb 1.2%, closing at 67.675 cents per pound--a near recovery from yesterday's dip of 1.5%, making the weekly movement of hogs up only 0.6%. This is a far cry from what livestock traders expected with the signing of the US/China trade deal Wednesday--a bigger positive reaction in pork futures was predicted. Live cattle futures, meanwhile, finished 0.2% for the day at $1.2635 per pound. For the week, cattle futures finished 0.8% lower. (; @kirkmaltais)



Estimated U.S. Pork Packer Margin Index - Jan 17 
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 17       +$ 47.49            +$ 26.93 
Jan 16       +$ 45.75            +$ 27.68 
Jan 15       +$ 40.91            +$ 24.95 
* 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. 
This report compares the USDA's latest beef carcass composite 
values as a percentage of their respective year-ago prices. 
          For Today             Choice  100.8 
      (Percent of Year-Ago)     Select  102.5 
USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports 

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Friday rose $1.27 per hundred pounds, to $214.17, according to the USDA. Select-grade prices rose $1.28 per hundred pounds, to $212.75. The total load count was 97. Wholesale pork prices fell 35 cents, to $74.26 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 17, 2020 17:10 ET (22:10 GMT)

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