The largest privately owned US company has posted a four year personal best, starting the new financial period with a 15% rise in its Q1 profits, which have now reached US$172m. Cargill, a major agribusiness group, attributed the increase to a huge upturn in the beef-processing business and within its financial division.

"Agile trading" in sugar and petroleum, together with good cattle supplies and export demand were also cited as positive factors.

The results have led to renewed hopes that the depressed conditions within the agribusiness sector are receding; however Cargill has conceded that the grain and oilseed markets were still stockpiling.