GRAIN HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

By Dow Jones Business News, 
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TOP STORIES:

Soybean Exports Top Expectations, Cancelations Noted

U.S. exporters sold 703,400 metric tons of soybeans in the week that ended on Jan. 16, the Department of Agriculture said in a report on Friday. That topped expectations by analysts who forecast sales of 300,000 to 625,000 tons. Purchases by unknown buyers totaled 302,100 tons, according to the USDA.

STORIES OF INTEREST:

USDA Data Show December Cattle Placements Above Estimates

Government data for the number of cattle placed into the nation's feedyards in December were higher than the average of analysts' expectations. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's cattle-on-feed report released Friday showed about 1% more young cattle, known as placements, entered U.S. feedyards in December compared with the prior year, while the number of head on feed as of Jan. 1 was down 5% from a year earlier. The placement number at 1.681 million head was three percentage points higher than the average of analysts' estimates, which pegged the figure down 1.9% from 2012.

THE MARKETS:

Wheat Drops as Cold Threat Subsides

Wheat futures fell for the fourth time in five sessions as the threat of plant death due to cold weather subsided and investors who were long the market, or bet prices would rise, sold contracts and closed positions after Thursday's price gain. While cold weather in the Midwest will persist, fears that winter-kill, when plants lacking protective snow cover die after temperatures drop below freezing for extended periods, will occur have "subsided after one day with people eager to take profits from the bounce yesterday," INTL FCStone said in a report on Friday.

U.S. Cattle Futures Extend Slump; Hogs Rise on Higher Pork Prices

U.S. cattle futures extended a two-day decline on profit-taking Friday, following a surge to all-time highs earlier this week as supplies of slaughter-ready cattle remain historically tight. February live-cattle shed 0.52 cent, or 0.4%, to $1.4340 a pound at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, after climbing to the highest ever price for any front-month contract earlier this week. Years of drought and industry consolidation have contributed to the smallest cattle herd in the nation in decades. This past year's record large corn harvest and significant drop in feed costs is expected to have encouraged some producers to retain female breeding animals on the farm in order to rebuild thinned herds, rather than sending them to slaughter.

Write to Tony C. Dreibus at tony.dreibus@wsj.com


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