First Thing Today (VIP) -- April 3, 2013

April 3, 2013 01:36 AM


CORN AND WHEAT FIRMER, BEANS LOWER... As of 6:30 a.m. CT, corn futures are trading 1 to 2 cents higher, soybeans are 5 to 10 cents lower, Chicago wheat is 4 to 9 cents higher, Kansas City wheat is mostly 4 to 8 cents higher and Minneapolis wheat is mostly 6 to 12 cents higher. The U.S. dollar index is holding around unchanged this morning.

MORE BIRD FLU CASES REPORTED IN CHINA... China reported four more cases of the new H7N9 strain of bird flu in the Jiangsu province in eastern China, according to Xinhua news agency. This brings the number of reported cases of the H7N9 strain in China to seven, with two resulting in deaths thus far. The three previous cases were in the neighboring Shanghai and Anhui provinces. The World Health Organization is investigating the situation and earlier this week signaled it did not believe the H7N9 strain could be transmitted between humans. This situation raises concerns about whether it's related to the recent death of pigs that were found in the Huangpu River that runs through Shanghai, though the People’s Daily online says none of the pigs tested had the virus.

EGYPTIAN OFFICIAL: NO ISSUES ON WHEAT FOR THE COUNTRY... Egypt plans to buy more wheat domestically this year as government storage has been increased and it's hopeful domestic production will increase to 9 MMT to 10 MMT, Egyptian Ag Minister Salah Abdel-Momen tells Reuters. However, there are doubts about the ability of the country to produce much more than 8.5 MMT of wheat domestically. Regarding funds for wheat imports, Abdel-Momen says there is no shortage of funds for importing wheat. "We will not compromise on the quality of the subsidized bread, and it's not true that we plan to buy lower quality wheat from abroad. We'll buy from countries like Ukraine, Russia, France and the United States," he says.

INFORMA APRIL CROP REPORTS OUT THIS MORNING... Informa Economics will release its April crop report at 10:30 a.m. CT. The report will include a winter wheat crop update based on April 1 conditions.

ODDS FOR MAJOR TAX REFORM LIKELY LINKED TO COMING DEBT LIMIT DEBATE... Both political parties and President Obama agree that the current U.S. tax system needs major reform. But as with any comprehensive review, getting there and finishing the matter is fraught with hurdles. So is the case with tax reform. The last time it was reformed was in 1986 and it took two years to complete the task. That was before the gridlock ways of Washington were in full stride. Washington sources signal that whether or not reform comes during Obama's second term could be determined sooner than most think. They look to the coming late-summer debate on again increasing the debt limit as the best chance to get the framework for an agreement that would then take time to flesh out. If not, odds would rise that tax reform would be the topic for a new president and Congress.

CENTRAL BANKS IN FOCUS... Japan's Nikkei stock index rose sharply overnight as the Bank of Japan starts a 2-day meeting in which it's expected to boost its asset purchases in an attempt to bolster the country's economy and bump inflation. The European Central Bank (ECB) and Bank of England hold policy-setting meetings Thursday in which they are not expected to change current policies, though the recent run of economic data has some holding out hope the ECB could take additional actions to bolster the euro-zone economy.

MIXED SIGNALS FOR CASH CATTLE TRADE... Choice boxed beef prices were higher again Tuesday, giving cattle traders some hope packers will raise cash cattle bids. But beef movement remains light, showlist numbers are higher and packers are working with negative margins, which suggests higher cash cattle bids are far from certain. With packers yet to establish initial cash cattle bids in the Plains, there's still a lot of uncertainty with the direction of this week's cash cattle trade.

PORK MARKET SPUTTERS... The pork cutout value was $1.05 lower Tuesday and packers were only able to move 46 loads of cuts and trim at the lower prices. With packers struggling to move product, demand for cash hogs could wane after unexpected strength in the cash market the first two days this week.

OVERNIGHT DEMAND NEWS... South Korea tendered to buy up to 140,000 MT of optional origin corn and 10,000 MT of optional origin barley. Vietnam purchased 10,000 MT of Argentine soymeal.


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