Grain/soy futures firmer this morning... As of 6:30 a.m. CT, corn futures are trading 1 to 2 cents higher, soybeans are 4 to 5 cents higher, SRW and HRW wheat futures are 2 to 4 cents higher and HRS wheat futures are 4 to 7 cents higher. The U.S. dollar index is under pressure this morning.
China expected to default on more soybean shipments... Chinese buyers may default on an additional 1.2 MMT of soybeans shipments from the U.S. and Brazil, an official from China's top soybean importer told Reuters. Chinese importers are struggling to get letters of credit for the shipments amid poor crush margins and a backlog of supplies at ports. Chinese buyers have already defaulted on at least 500,000 MT of soybean shipments. Another source told Reuters he expects many of the soybeans to eventually be sold to Chinese buyers at lower prices.
Argentine truckers/dockworkers strike... Argentine truckers and dockworkers started an "indefinite" strike at midnight in an effort to get better wages amid 30%-plus inflation in the country. Sources tell us some exporters have canceled all business through Saturday because logistics are at a standstill across the country. The Argentine government is hoping to hold a meeting with union leaders next Monday, according to one source.
Talks on Russia-Ukraine today will determine fate of additional sanctions... The White House said it is preparing tougher sanctions it could impose on Russia if talks today yield no signs Moscow plans to reduce tensions. The U.S., Russia, the EU and Ukraine began crisis talks today in Geneva. In a live TV phone-in on Thursday, Russia's President Vladimir Putin warned Kiev of "the abyss they're heading into" in eastern Ukraine and urged dialogue.
Weekly export sales out this morning... For the week ended April 10, traders expect (old- and new-crop combined): corn sales between 550,000 and 1 million MT; wheat sales between 275,000 and 625,000 MT; soybean sales between 75,000 and 450,000 MT; soymeal between 150,000 and 300,000 MT; and soyoil between 0 and 60,000 MT.
Survey: Nearly one-fifth of China's arable land is contaminated... A survey of China's land quality showed 16.1% of the country's soil and 19.4% of its arable land is contaminated with organic or inorganic pollution. A joint report from China's Ministry of Environmental Protection and the Ministry of Land and Resources labeled the survey results "troubling" and said the soil situation "does not offer cause for optimism."
Fed notes PEDV in Beige Book recap... Federal Reserve Districts noted weather declined as a factor holding down the U.S. economy in Wednesday's release of the Beige Book. But in an interesting mention referring to the situation with porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV), the report stated, "A pig virus adversely affected hog farming in the Richmond, Chicago, Kansas City, and San Francisco Districts." For the matter to be mentioned in this Fed update, it clearly has had a significant impact in some areas of the country as the top hog producing states are represented in the Fed districts that reported the disease.
USDA to hold signup in May for 2012 SURE... Signup for the 2012 Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments (SURE) program will start in May although specific dates for the enrollment process have yet to be determined by USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA). The coming signup will cover losses occurring because of weather events through September 30, 2011. Under SURE, a qualifying loss is defined as a loss of 10% or more on at least one crop of economic significance because of disaster on a farm that is either located in a disaster county or if not in a disaster county or contiguous to one, there has to be an overall loss greater than or equal to 50% of normal production on the farm (expected revenue for all crops on the farm) because of disaster. A crop of "economic significance" is a crop that contributes at least 5% of the expected revenue for a producer's SURE farm. For the 2012 SURE program, producers will be required to identify and certify crop or crops of economic significance on the SURE farm that suffered the 10% loss because of disaster occurring through September 30, 2011.
Still waiting on cash cattle trade... So far, packers have been unwilling to pay steady prices for cash cattle, while feedlots have been unwilling to move cattle at lower prices versus week-ago. With markets closed Friday, packers and feedlots want to get cash negotiations wrapped up today so there should be some movement by this afternoon, though active trade may not be seen until after futures close for the week.
Pork product market nearing a low?... The pork cutout value was another 70 cents lower Wednesday, but packers moved a strong 513.94 loads of cuts and trim on the day. The sharp increase in movement is the first hint that the pork product may be nearing a low as it suggests prices have fallen far enough to ramp up retailer demand.
Markets closed Friday... Grain markets will observe normal trading hours today. Pit trade in the livestock markets will observe normal hours today, while electronic livestock trading will close at 1:55 p.m. CT. Grain and livestock markets are closed tomorrow for Good Friday. Grain markets reopen Sunday, April 20, at 7:00 p.m. CT. Livestock markets (electronic and pit trade) will resume trading at 9:05 a.m. CT on Monday, April 21.
Overnight demand news... Japan purchased 136,261 MT of wheat in its weekly tender, including 58,321 MT of U.S. supplies.