What Traders are Talking About:
* CME Group to expand grain trading hours. Reuters reports two sources familiar with the situation say CME Group's board of directors voted Monday to extend grain trading hours. But the sources say no decision has been made on how many hours to add to the grain trading day and when to implement the change. Another source indicates to me the vote was 9-1 in favor of expanding trading hours from 6 p.m. to 4 p.m. CT (22 hours per day) and the new hours will take effect May 14. CME Group is reportedly making the changes to compete with the IntercontinentalExchange. (ICE), which earlier this month announced plans to start nearly around-the-clock trading of five grain and oilseed futures contracts in mid-May.
The long and short of it: A 22-hour trading day would be welcomed by index and traditional commodity funds. But it could become harder (and more costly) for commercials and farmers to offset risk. It would also mean instant market reaction to key USDA data, which would then come out during market hours -- unless Congress changes the release times.
* Corn planting more advanced than expected. As of Sunday, USDA reports 53% of the U.S. corn crop was seeded, which was more advanced than traders expected (43%). Iowa made the big jump, with 50% of that state's crop now in the ground -- a 41-point increase from the week ended April 22 despite some cool, rainy conditions the second half of last week. USDA reports 15% of the corn crop has emerged, which compares to the five-year average of 6% for this date.
The long and short of it: The stronger-than-expected corn planting pace put mild pressure on corn futures overnight, especially after the strong rally into the close Monday.
* China April PMI shows expansion in manufacturing sector. China's official purchasing managers' index (PMI) for April came in slightly lower than expected at 53.3, but that was up from 53.1 in March and a 13-month high. A figure above 50 signifies expansion in the manufacturing sector. A pickup in export orders was largely behind the increased factory activity last month.
The long and short of it: This is another sign that the first quarter was the low point for the Chinese economy. But there are still some hurdles ahead for the world's second largest economy. The People's Bank of China has a tough task of finding the fine line with monetary policy that allows for economic growth, but doesn't fuel inflation.
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