CORN AND WHEAT FIRMER, BEANS MIXED OVERNIGHT... As of 6:30 a.m. CT, corn futures are trading 10 to 12 cents higher, soybeans are fractionally to 1 cent higher in old-crop contracts and 1 to 3 cents lower in new-crop contracts, Chicago wheat is 4 to 6 cents higher, Kansas City wheat is 5 to 7 cents higher and Minneapolis wheat is 3 to 7 cents higher. The U.S. dollar index is under sharp pressure this morning.
COOL, WET WEEK AHEAD... Farmers were finally able to get into fields across areas of the Corn Belt over the weekend, though much of the activity was field prep instead of planting. This week's forecast shows a daily chance for rains across much of the region, with colder temps expected to return the second half of the week. As a result, it appears there will be limited corn planting progress again this week, which is supportive for corn futures.
WITH CONGRESS OUT THIS WEEK, FOCUS IS ON ECONOMIC REPORTS AND WHEAT TOUR... Lawmakers are out on another break this week and will return the week of May 6. The Senate plans to finish an internet sales tax bill and then begin work on a water infrastructure bill when it returns from the one-week recess. Potential market-moving events are on the economic calendar, with a lot of attention on Wednesday and Friday. The main attention will on the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) which wraps up their two-day meeting Wednesday. But Friday brings the big economic report -- Employment. Otherwise, market attention will be focused on economic data out of China and Europe plus any central bank moves that may come about. Earnings will also remain a market focus. For agriculture, today’s Crop Progress update should continue to show slow corn planting progress and more deterioration of the HRW crop. The Wheat Quality Council will send scouts through Plains HRW wheat fields later this week, providing traders with updates on some "ground truth" of what may have happened to the wheat crop from recent freeze events. Grain traders will also focus on Thursday's Weekly Export Sales Report, any new developments on the Mississippi and Illinois rivers and bird flu updates out of China.
LUCAS PROVIDES ADDITIONAL FARM BILL MARKUP DETAILS... House Ag Committee Chairman Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), via an interview cited by Congressional Quarterly, revealed additional farm bill markup details than those that previously surfaced, including a May 15 markup date (tentative) and a 10-year savings of $38 billion. Lucas said the House GOP leadership has not committed yet to a timing for floor action. "What I've gotten out of leadership is that we can't do any more extensions. The environment is not there to support that, therefore we've got to do our work. When they fit us into their work, that I don't know yet," Lucas said. The food stamp programs, which accounts for about 80% of farm bill spending, would be reduced by $20 billion under the new bill, with the rest of the savings coming primarily out of the commodity and conservation titles, Lucas said. He added that the new bill would make bigger cuts in conservation spending, including the Conservation Stewardship Program, than last year's legislation. Lucas again hinted that the Conservation Reserve Program also would likely be reduced by more than proposed last year. The commodity title will be left largely intact, he said. Target prices in the Price Loss Coverage program will be "very close" to the levels in last year's bill, he said.
OBAMA TO ANNOUNCE SEVERAL CABINET NOMINEES THIS WEEK... President Obama today is expected to officially nominate Anthony Foxx, the mayor of Charlotte, N.C., to be his next secretary of transportation. Reports also surfaced that the president has settled on Mike Froman, currently a White House deputy national-security adviser, as his nominee for U.S. trade representative. The president will also soon name Chicago billionaire and Democratic donor Penny Pritzker as commerce secretary.
BIRD FLU UPDATE... There have been 126 cases of H7N9 bird flu confirmed -- 125 in China and 1 in Taiwan -- with 23 of those resulting in deaths. The latest case in China is in the southern province of Hunan, which is further evidence the disease is spreading.
CATTLE TRADERS MAINTAIN PROVE-IT ATTITUDE... Despite tightening feedlot supplies, summer-month live cattle futures are trading at a big discount to the cash market. That's a clear indication traders remain concerned with beef demand moving forward. Until the demand concerns ease, the upside is limited to corrective buying in cattle futures.
CASH HOGS CALLED STEADY/FIRMER... Packers are expected to open the week with steady to firmer cash hog bids across the Midwest as market-ready supplies are tightening and margins are positive. While the market continues to strengthen seasonally, nearby lean hog futures hold a big premium to the cash index, which may limit buying interest by traders.
WEEKEND DEMAND NEWS... South Korea purchased around 60,000 MT of feed wheat -- likely Black Sea origin.