QUIET PRICE ACTION THIS MORNING... As of 6:30 a.m. CT, corn futures are trading around 1 cent higher in the most actively traded contracts, soybeans steady to 3 cents lower, Chicago and Kansas City wheat mostly 1 to 3 cents lower and Minneapolis wheat 3 to 4 cents lower. The U.S. dollar index is mildly favoring the downside in light and choppy trade.
RUSSIAN GRAIN PRODUCTION, EXPORTS REMAIN IN FOCUS... A day before Russian officials meet to discuss the grain situation, the country's deputy ag minister says there's no need to curb grain exports despite falling production estimates. Meanwhile, private firm SovEcon cut its Russian wheat crop forecast to 38 MMT from 39 MMT and lowered its total grains estimate to 70.5 MMT from a range of 71 MMT to 72.5 MMT previously. SovEcon says Russian grain production could fall below 70 MMT if corn yields are disappointing.
NO MAJOR PROGRESS IN FARM BILL TALKS... While some farm-state lawmakers and farm group lobbyists continue to push for House members to consider a farm bill shortly after they return Sept. 10 from their summer recess, there are no signs GOP House leadership will take up the measure. Congress is expected to pass a short-term extension of the 2008 Farm Bill although the extension timeline is murky at this time and the need for some budget offsets for any such extension is also unclear. Some see an extension to the end of 2012, allowing a new farm bill to be considered in the post-election, lame-duck session of Congress. Meanwhile, Senate Ag Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) has stated she may be willing to help push a farm disaster aid package from the House -- if it is expanded to include fruits and vegetables.
WEEKLY EXPORT SALES REPORT OUT THIS MORNING... For the week ended Aug. 23, traders expect: corn sales between 250,000 and 450,000 MT; wheat sales between 450,000 and 600,000 MT; soybean sales between 600,000 and 800,000 MT; soymeal sales between 150,000 and 250,000 MT; and soyoil sales between 10,000 and 20,000 MT.
SIGNS STILL POINT TO LOWER CASH CATTLE PRICES... Boxed beef movement improved to 230 loads Wednesday, but both Choice and Select boxes were 99 cents lower. With product prices falling and packers showing no urgency to buy cattle, most traders are expecting cash cattle prices to be at least $1 lower than last week's $120 to $121 trade.
PORK MARGINS FIRM DESPITE FALLING PORK PRICES... Packers have seen cutting margins improve this week despite a drop in the pork cutout value as cash hog bids have declined at a more rapid pace. Despite the improving margins, packers have little incentive to raise cash hog bids given upcoming plant closures for the holiday weekend and an abundant supply of market-ready hogs.
OVERNIGHT DEMAND NEWS... Taiwan tendered for 55,200 MT of U.S. wheat. South Korea purchased 22,000 MT of Chinese non-GMO soybeans.