CORN FIRMER, BEANS AND WHEAT LOWER OVERNIGHT... As of 6:30 a.m. CT, corn futures are trading 1 to 2 cents higher, soybeans are steady to 4 cents lower, Chicago wheat is 2 to 5 cents lower, Kansas City wheat is 3 to 5 cents lower and Minneapolis wheat is 5 to 6 cents lower. The U.S. dollar index is holding near unchanged this morning.
APRIL CROP REPORTS OUT LATER THIS MORNING... USDA's Supply & Demand Report is expected to show increased carryover projections for corn, soybeans and wheat after March 1 stocks came in higher than expected in the March 28 Quarterly Grain Stocks Report. Based on the average pre-report guesses, traders expect corn carryover at 824 million bu., soybean ending stocks at 137 million bu. and wheat carryover at 731 million bushels. USDA will also update global production forecasts.
SUB-FREEZING TEMPS HIT THE PLAINS... As expected, overnight lows dipped well below freezing as far south as northern Texas. The areas that are most at risk of freeze damage to the HRW crop are the western areas of Kansas and Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle.
CHINESE MARCH SOY IMPORTS UP FROM FEBRUARY, BUT DOWN FROM YEAR-AGO... China imported 3.84 MMT of soybeans in March, according to official customs data. That was up 32.4% from February, but down 20.5% from March 2012. Through the first three months of the 2013 calendar year, Chinese soybean imports of 11.49 MMT are down 13.4% from year-ago.
CHINA AMASSES TRADE DEFICIT IN MARCH... China posted a surprising trade deficit of $884 million in March after a surplus of $15.25 billion in February. Chinese exports rose 10% in March, while imports surged 14.1% last month. Meanwhile, Dow Jones newswire is reporting Chinese officials are investigating reports of distorted trade data. There are concerns export data since December may have been overstated as exporters try to gain tax rebates and bring in foreign exchange to take advantage of the rise in the value of the yuan.
COLD, WET SPRING MAY HURT CHINESE CORN, WHEAT PRODUCTION... The start of corn planting in northeastern Chinese production regions has been delayed seven to 10 days by cold, wet conditions, which may lead to less planted acreage, according to an official with China's National Development and Reform Commission. The official says 9.5 million hectares are at risk, with just over half of that total being in Heilongjiang, China's top corn production province. Meanwhile, wheat areas south of the Yangtze River are at risk due to unseasonably cold temperatures.
BRAZIL TO ALLOW MORE DUTY-FREE WHEAT IMPORTS, ALSO CUTS COTTON IMPORT DUTY... Brazil has doubled the amount to 2 MMT of wheat that can be imported duty-free from outside the Mercosur trading bloc (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela and Bolivia) through July 31. Brazil will also allow 800,000 MT of duty-free cotton imports from May 1 through July 31.
BILL TO BE INTRODUCED TODAY WOULD ALTER CORN-BASED ETHANOL MANDATE... A bipartisan group of lawmakers will detail legislation today that would alter federal requirements for blending corn ethanol into transportation fuel. Biofuel supporters say any tweaks would negatively impact investment in next-generation fuels made from non-edible feedstock. The lawmakers’ bill is expected to focus on the mandate’s corn-based ethanol requirement. Currently, corn ethanol comprises an overwhelming majority of the domestic biofuel market.
CANADA'S RITZ SAYS RETALIATION ON COOL STILL POSSIBLE... Should the U.S. not bring its Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) law into compliance with WTO rules, Canadian Ag Minister Gerry Ritz warned Tuesday they will pursue retaliation against a host of U.S. goods. Ritz said the country would draw up a list of some $1 billion in U.S. products they would target if the U.S. doesn’t alter its plans on COOL by the May 23 deadline. Comments are being taken through April 11 on USDA's proposal to alter COOL but Ritz said the proposed rule from USDA does not meet the test in the view of Canada. Ritz made the comments after meeting with USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack and is now headed to Mexico to strategize on the COOL issue with Mexico, the other country that pursued the successful WTO challenge of the U.S. law.
BULLISH CASH HOPES, BUT SOME DOUBTS REMAIN... Traders are generally hopeful of steady to firmer cash cattle prices in the Plains this week as showlist numbers are lighter than last week. But given sluggish boxed beef movement and with packer cutting margins solidly in the red, cattle traders are taking a prove-it attitude.
LIMITED DEMAND FOR CASH HOGS... Packer demand for cash hogs declined Tuesday and is expected to remain relatively light through the end of the week. Packers are working with negative margins and instead of actively competing for a tightening supply of market-ready hogs amid the red ink, some plants are opting to trim back kill hours.
OVERNIGHT DEMAND NEWS... Japan received no bids in its tender to buy 120,000 MT of feed wheat and 200,000 MT of feed barley.