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First Thing Today (VIP) -- April 22, 2014

06:44AM Apr 22, 2014

Good morning!

Price recovery in grain/soy futures overnight... Grain and soy futures partially rebounded from Monday's losses overnight. As of 6:30 a.m. CT, corn futures are trading 3 to 4 cents higher, soybeans are 4 to 7 cents higher and most wheat contracts are 2 to 5 cents higher. The U.S. dollar index is mildly weaker this morning.

Ministry raises Chinese soy import forecast... China is expected to import 6.9 MMT of soybeans this month, according to the latest forecast from the country's Ministry of Commerce. That's up sharply from its previous forecast of 5.11 MMT.

Aussie scientists: El Nino conditions expected to build... All models monitored by Australian Bureau of Meteorology point toward an El Nino event developing this year, with six of the seven models suggesting El Nino thresholds may be exceeded by July. While conditions remain neutral for now, equatorial Pacific waters are warming and should continue that trend, according to the latest update from the Australian scientists.

Ethanol industry today launches new ad campaign ahead of EPA RFS decision... Ahead of EPA's coming final rule on Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) requirements for 2014, groups representing conventional ethanol and advanced biofuel companies today are announcing a new ad campaign to challenge the oil industry. The Biotechnology Industry Organization is supporting the effort, a development some observers say is a sign of the concern some have about the future of government biofuel policy.

First Lady: 'Our bodies don't know what to do with high fructose corn syrup -- and don't need it'... During a White House event Monday hosted by First Lady Michelle Obama with chef Marc Murphy and members of the cast of the Disney Channel’s "Jessie," Obama asked Murphy if honey was better than sugar for sweetening foods. Murphy answered that honey was better than high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). "Our bodies can deal with honey" but not with "processed high fructose corn syrup," Murphy said. Michelle Obama then told the crowd: "Our bodies don’t know what to do with high fructose corn syrup -- and don’t need it." The Corn Refiners Association said the First Lady has her science wrong on HFCS. "Years of scientific research have shown that the body metabolizes high fructose corn syrup similarly to table sugar and honey," the group said. "Moderation and the right caloric balance are key to a healthy lifestyle."

HRW CCI rating drops, SRW improves... When USDA's weekly crop condition ratings are plugged into the weighted Pro Farmer Crop Condition Index (0 to 500 point scale with 500 being perfect), the HRW crop dropped 3 points to 290. The Kansas and Oklahoma CCI ratings each dropped nearly 2 points. The SRW CCI rating improved 2 points to 354. The HRW CCI rating is 26 points better than year-ago, while the SRW rating is 19 points worse than this date last year. Click here for more details.

China cuts RRR for rural financial institutions... China's central bank announced reserve requirement ratios for county-level rural commercial banks will be cut by two percentage points and by 0.5 point for rural credit unions as of Friday. This will drop reserve requirements as low as 13% for some rural banks. Bigger banks must hold reserves of up to 20%. This is an attempt to boost credit flow in rural areas and encourage rural development. China is trying to boost economic activity with mini-stimulus efforts without changing its overall monetary policy.

Wholesale beef prices surge... Choice boxed beef prices were $2.71 higher, while Select beef firmed $2.84 Monday. Movement wasn't strong at 151 loads, but the combination of price strength and movement suggests the product market has posted a short-term low. That may ease some concerns on the demand side of the market, but traders are worried high beef prices will lead to more pork and poultry features during the upcoming grilling season.

Cash hogs called steady/weaker... Demand for cash hogs was even weaker than expected Monday as some plants remained closed for Easter. While all plants will be back up and running today, demand for cash hogs isn't expected to be any better. Cash hog bids are expected to remain steady to weaker across the Midwest.

Overnight demand news... South Korea purchased 60,000 MT of U.S. or South American corn. Iraq passed on a tender to buy at least 50,000 MT of wheat. Japan is seeking 108,789 MT of wheat in its weekly tender.