Wheat futures lead overnight gains... As of 6:30 a.m. CT, wheat futures are 11 to 25 cents higher, corn futures are around 4 cents higher, old-crop soybeans are 2 to 6 cents higher and new-crop soybeans are narrowly mixed. The U.S. dollar index is stronger this morning.
Wide variety of weather concerns... Rains generally skirted the driest areas of the southwestern Plains, while heavy precip fell across the western Corn Belt Saturday night and Sunday. The rains turned to snow as winter temps returned to the country's midsection overnight. Temps dipped below freezing as far south as southwestern Kansas overnight but it's tonight's temps that are the concern. A hard freeze warning is in effect as far south as the Texas Panhandle tonight and Tuesday. A return of wintry weather is causing concern with the HRW crop, which is a already struggling, and will halt planting across much of Corn Belt this week.
Ukraine crisis flares up again... Clashes in eastern Ukraine prompted an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council, boosting concern that grain supplies from the region may be disrupted. Russia sought the UN meeting as prospects for a negotiated end to the crisis were set back after camouflaged gunmen fired on government forces in eastern Ukraine. U.S. and Ukrainian officials accused Russia of being behind the violence, raising the potential for additional sanctions. That is a topic EU officials will talk about today and later this week. Meanwhile, Ukraine's acting president now says he is not opposed to a countrywide referendum on possibly granting regions greater autonomy. A referendum on greater independence from the central government in Kiev has been a key demand made by the militias that have commandeered government buildings in the east. Ukraine is scheduled to hold a presidential election on May 25. Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden will travel to Ukraine for meetings with government leaders and others on April 22, the White House said Saturday.
House and Senate will be out of Washington for the next two weeks... But today the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is scheduled to release its baseline update, including new assessments on the impact of the new U.S. farm bill. More economic updates are on tap this week on inflation, housing and manufacturing. The Fed’s Beige Book report is also due out Wednesday afternoon. Chinese economic data this week will be another focus. For agriculture, this afternoon's Crop Progress Report is expected to show another decline in winter wheat crop ratings while corn planting is expected to be around 3% to 5% complete. Thursday's update on U.S. export sales will also be monitored for any China sales cancellations of U.S. corn or soybean purchases.
Firm raises Russian grain export forecast... Private firm SovEcon raised its Russian 2013-14 grain export forecast to 25 MMT from 24.2 MMT previously after active exports last month. The firm's wheat export forecast was upped 200,000 MT to 17.8 MMT, while its corn export forecast was increased 400,000 MT to 4.2 MMT.
Cash cattle traded lower... Cash cattle traded at $147 in Kansas and Texas late Friday, down $1 from the previous week. Unless the boxed beef market signals a short-term low is in place, traders will expect steady to weaker cash cattle trade this week. But April live cattle futures finish Friday at just over $2 discount to the cash market, which should limit selling interest in the lead-month contract.
Cash hogs called steady/weaker... Packers are expected to open the week with steady to weaker cash hog bids across the Midwest amid limited demand. While market-ready supplies are tight, some plants have reduced kill runs and most are running a shortened holiday kill schedule this week ahead of Easter.
Weekend demand news... Taiwan purchased 92,550 MT of U.S. milling wheat. South Korea bought 193,000 MT of optional origin corn and 65,000 MT of optional origin feed wheat.