LIVESTOCK HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

TOP STORIES

Kraft Bonds Tumble After Fitch Downgrade to Junk Rating

Investors are dumping bonds of Kraft Heinz Co. after Fitch Ratings pushed its rating of the company into junk territory following a disappointing earnings report.

A downgrade by one of the two other major ratings firms would force index operators to classify Kraft as below investment grade and prohibit many bond funds from holding the debt.

Trump's Tariff Threats Are Tested by Europe's Record Trade Surplus

Europe's trade surplus with the U.S. hit a record high in 2019, a rise that risks drawing the ire of President Trump, who recently renewed threats to place tariffs on European Union goods if the bloc didn't agree to a new deal.

The EU's surplus with the U.S. stood at EUR152.6 billion ($165.5 billion) last year, an 11% increase over 2018.

The surplus has been a frequent target of anger from the U.S. president, who said this week his administration would refocus on trade talks with the EU following a recent agreement with China. President Trump wants to reach a deal with the EU before the November election and has threatened to levy tariffs on European goods if the talks fail.

STORIES OF INTEREST

Beyond Meat Stock Is up 50% This Year. Earnings May Change That. -- Barrons.com

Alternative protein maker Beyond Meat scheduled its fourth-quarter earnings report and call for Thursday, Feb. 27, its first after the lackluster response to the third-quarter report.

Investors have been waiting anxiously for the announcement and the scheduling may be what prompted Bernstein analyst Alexia Howard to think about what investors need to know about Beyond Meat stock . It's a timely update because there is a lot going on. From Super Bowl controversy to lawsuits to all the regular business fundamentals, such as sales and manufacturing capacity.

China's Shipping Nears a Standstill Amid Coronavirus Disruption

Shipping volumes out of China are plummeting as the impact of the coronavirus outbreak takes a deeper toll on industrial production, and ocean carriers are bracing for financial blows from the diminished output.

"Substantially less cargo is being moved between China and the rest of the world" said Lars Jensen, head of Denmark- based maritime research group Sea-Intelligence. "Last week we had an additional 30 sailings canceled, with 23 across the Pacific and the rest to Europe."

Mr. Jensen said the canceled trips, which have topped 50 since late January, will delay or reduce shipments into the U.S., where retailers may see a slowdown in their traditional restocking of inventories for the spring.

FUTURES MARKETS

Cattle Futures Close Back Over $1.20 Per Pound -- Market Talk

15:47 ET - Live cattle futures finish up 1.5% to $1.20325 per pound. For the week, cattle gains 0.5%--overcoming a down start to the week. Meanwhile, hog futures also manage to turn higher after starting the day on the downside, with the April contract finishing up 0.4% at 64.3 cents per pound. The contract still had a down week, however, finishing with a loss of 2.6%. (kirk.maltais@wsj.com; @kirkmaltais)

CASH MARKETS

Estimated U.S. Pork Packer Margin Index - Feb 14

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

Feb 14       +$ 23.22            +$  0.44
Feb 13       +$ 23.76            +$  0.29
Feb 12       +$ 25.43            +$  2.57

* 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   96.3
      (Percent of Year-Ago)     Select   97.8

USDA Boxed Beef, Pork Reports

Wholesale choice-grade beef prices Friday rose $1.64 per hundred pounds, to $208.09, according to the USDA. Select- grade prices rose $1.92 per hundred pounds, to $205.71. The total load count was 126. Wholesale pork prices rose 7 cents, to $61.94 a hundred pounds, based on Omaha, Neb., price quotes.


  (END) Dow Jones Newswires
  02-14-20 1728ET
  Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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