First Thing Today (VIP) -- August 2, 2013

06:36AM Aug 02, 2013
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CORN WEAKER, BEANS AND WHEAT MILDLY FIRMER OVERNIGHT... As of 6:30 a.m. CT, corn futures are trading fractionally to 2 cents lower, soybeans are mostly 3 to 6 cents higher, SRW futures are steady to 1 cent higher in most contracts, HRW futures are mostly 1 to 2 cents higher and HRS futures are mostly 2 to 4 cents higher. The U.S. dollar index is firmer this morning.

FC STONE RELEASES FIRST CROP ESTIMATES... Brokerage firm INTL FC Stone pegs the corn crop at 13.993 billion bu. on a yield of 157 bu. per acre and the soybean crop at 3.309 billion bu. on a yield of 43 bu. per acre. These are the firm's first estimates for this year's crops and are based on customer surveys and other factors. USDA will release its first survey-based estimates for the corn and soybean crops on Aug. 12.

JOBS REPORT OUT THIS MORNING... Economists expect the Labor Department to report 183,000 non-farm payrolls were added in July, though the "whisper" number is for jobs growth to exceed 200,000 last month.. The unemployment rate is expected to tick down to 7.5% from 7.6% in last month's report.

bought 120,000 MT of corn from Ukraine, the first purchase since the countries signed a quarantine deal last November. The two cargoes for are delivery in October and November. Bloomberg News reports the corn will be resold to feedmills in southern China.

STABENOW AGAIN NOTES OPPOSITION TO ANOTHER FARM BILL EXTENSION... In a teleconference Thursday, Senate Ag Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) noted that Sen Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) has vowed to block any extension of the direct payment system the Senate farm bill was designed to replace. In a colloquy on the Senate floor, Flake urged Stabenow to ensure that any farm bill that comes out of conference end direct payments to farmers. Flake noted that the House-passed farm bill would continue subsidy payments to cotton farmers at a rate of 70% in 2014 and 60% in 2015, which he said would cost taxpayers $823 million. Stabenow agreed, saying she will urge the conference committee to adopt the Senate provision that eliminates direct payments. "It has been my goal from the beginning of this farm bill process to end unnecessary subsidies and clean up areas of waste, fraud and abuse starting with the direct payment program," Stabenow told Flake.

VILSACK AGAIN BACKS RFS, SAYS REPEAL WOULD BE 'STEP BACKWARDS'... USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack on Thursday reiterated the Obama administration's support for the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) as three senators pressed the president for a waiver of the standard's 2014 requirements. It would be "bad policy for this country to take a step backwards" by repealing the standard, Vilsack said during the Energy Department's Biomass 2013 conference. Sens. David Vitter (R-La.), Mark Pryor (D-Ark.), and James Inhofe (R-Okla.) sent a letter to President Obama asking the administration to use its authority to waive the 2014 volume standards while Congress considers a "long-term policy solution." The letter said "the premise and structure of the RFS were based on many assumptions that no longer reflect the current market conditions."

USDA: SUGAR LOANS DUE AT END OF JULY REPAID, BUT SURPLUS REMAINS... All of the sugar loans owed by processors due at the end of July have been repaid in cash, though a surplus still hangs over the market and risk of future forfeitures is "significant," according to a USDA spokesman. The government-backed loans are owed by U.S. sugar processors, and recent low sugar prices have increased the threat that processors would forfeit sugar used as collateral. The first tranche of loan repayment came due at the end of July, though another $456.6 million, representing about 945,000 MT of sugar, shown as still outstanding in USDA data may remain at risk for default. USDA has announced several actions to support prices and reduce forfeiture risk. USDA purchased sugar for the first time in over a decade in recent weeks, looking to stave off potential mass forfeitures as domestic sugar prices have tumbled under the weight of hefty U.S. and Mexican supplies.

PBOC TO KEEP PRUDENT MONETARY POLICY... In its quarterly monetary policy report, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) says it will maintain prudent monetary policy with fine tuning as necessary. PBOC also plans moderate growth in the credit supply as it works to ensure ample liquidity. Strict controls will remain in place over speculation in the property market to keep it from getting even frothier.

DISAPPOINTING START TO CASH CATTLE TRADE... Cash cattle trade started at steady $119 prices in Texas and Kansas Thursday, though most feedlots are still holding out in hopes that packers will raise bids from week-ago. Traders were hopeful cash cattle would trade firmer this week after Nebraska feedlots got firmer prices for cattle late last Friday. As a result, the disappointing start to cash trade weighed on live cattle futures late Thursday.

PORK CUTOUT CONTINUES TO FIRM... The pork cutout value built on recent strength yesterday, rising $1.59 on strong gains in bellies and loins. With the pork cutout on the rise and cash hog bids mostly flat, packer cutting margins are now solidly in the black. But margins aren't strong enough to encourage packers to actively raise cash hog bids.

OVERNIGHT DEMAND NEWS... South Korea passed on a tender to purchase up to 140,000 MT of optional origin corn.