Corn and wheat weaker, beans firmer overnight... Wheat futures are facing pressure from recent rains and forecasts calling for more precip in the Central and Southern Plains, though rains are expected to stay east of the driest areas. As of 6:30 a.m. CT, corn futures are trading 2 to 3 cents lower, soybeans are 5 to 8 cents higher and wheat futures are 7 to 11 cents lower. The U.S. dollar index is anchored near unchanged ahead of this morning's jobs report.
No Chinese approval yet for MIR 162 corn... China is still "in the process of evaluation" on Syngenta's Viptera corn trait (MIR 162), according to the country's ag ministry, meaning the biosafety committee failed to grant approval for import at it recent meeting. The biosafety panel will next meet sometime in June, though an industry source told Reuters he doesn't expect approval until the second half of the year.
Stronger jobs report expected... The U.S. economy is expected to have added 200,000 non-farm payrolls in March, according to a Reuters survey of economists ahead of this morning's jobs report from the Labor Department. That would be up from the 175,000 jobs added in February and the largest gain in four months, if realized. The unemployment rate is expected to be little changed from 6.7% last month.
Vilsack comments on RFS ethanol-related issues, pushes exports... A recent rise in gasoline consumption should be considered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) when it determines how much renewable fuels should be blended into the motor fuel supply this year, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack said Thursday. The EPA, which oversees the country's Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), proposed in November cutting the fuel requirement in 2014. EPA has noted that it was growing increasingly difficult for blenders to meet the RFS mandates as motorists drove less and cars became more fuel efficient. But since November, new data shows consumers fueling up more at the pump, a development Vilsack said EPA should take into account when it comes out with its final blending level expected by June. "Since (the EPA) came out with that proposal we're using more gas so it just points out the challenge they have in fixing the right number," Vilsack said. "Obviously, my hope is we do everything we possibly can to make this industry as viable and as supported as possible and we've expressed that to EPA." Vilsack stopped short of saying whether the EPA should make changes to its proposal when issuing the final blending rule. For now, he said, USDA would focus on helping the ethanol industry by looking for ways to expand the use of higher blends such as E15 and E85 in the marketplace. He also said the industry has significant opportunities to export its product to China, India, Japan and other countries. "There is a huge export opportunity here that we've not explored at all, that we're going to begin to explore," he said.
Next steps for tax incentive extenders bill... Now that the Senate Finance panel approved by voice vote the tax extenders measure, including biodiesel and bonus depreciation, the next timelines are a bit murky. No date has been slated to bring the bill to the Senate floor. House Ways & Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) will hold a hearing April 8 on the matter. Sources continue to signal the final end zone could come after November elections in a lame-duck session of Congress. Meanwhile in the Senate, floor debate could see some changes to the panel-passed bill. Meanwhile, an effort on Thursday in the Senate Finance Committee to, among other things, delete the biodiesel tax incentive retroactive extension through 2015, was defeated 6-18, with Republicans split. Six Republicans voted for it, while five voted with all of the Democrats in opposition.
Winter Olympics played role in bigger-than-expected trade gap... The U.S. trade deficit widened to $42.3 billion in February, with the Winter Olympics playing a role in the trade gap red ink expanding more than the $38.8 billion traders expected. How did the Olympics play a role? An increase in royalties and license fees of $800 million was noted, including payments for the rights to broadcast the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. Already some are starting to scale back expectations for first-quarter GDP even further than already had been expected given the harsh winter weather that has been negatively impacting various U.S. economic data.
Still waiting on active cash cattle trade... So far, cash cattle trade has been relatively light at roughly $2 lower prices compared with week-ago in the Plains. Cash sources signal most feedlots would move cattle if packers raise cash bids to even money with last week's $152 trade in Kansas and Texas, and $154 trade in Nebraska.
Wholesale pork prices drop sharply... The pork cutout value dropped $3.42 Thursday amid sharp declines in all but bellies, which were 28 cents higher. With the pork cutout value at historic levels, traders are watching for topping signs, but with pork still cheap compared to beef, there isn't much concern with a sharp, extended price plunge.
Overnight demand news... The Philippines tendered to buy 134,500 MT of optional origin feed wheat.