First Thing Today (VIP) -- December 16, 2013

December 16, 2013 12:17 AM


GRAINS WEAKER TO START THE WEEK... As of 6:30 a.m. CT, corn futures are trading 3 to 4 cents lower, soybeans are 2 to 5 cents lower and wheat futures are steady to 4 cents lower with SRW contracts leading losses. The U.S. dollar index is under pressure.

FEDERAL RESERVE INFO AND SENATE VOTE ON BUDGET ACCORD HIGHLIGHT WASHINGTON AGENDA... Senate leaders plan to complete debate and a vote (likely Wednesday) on the budget agreement that cleared the House last week. The House is in recess until Jan. 7; once the Senate completes its work this week, the chamber will recess until Jan. 6. Other Senate action this week will include confirmation of some nominees, including Janet Yellen to be chairwoman of the Federal Reserve. While there are more pieces of economic data due out this week, the key focus will be on the Wednesday conclusion of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting. The conclusion of that session will also see release of updated economic projections and the final press conference held by current Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke. Farm bill conference principals and/or staff are expected to meet this week either formally or via teleconference in further steps to deal with lingering issues. Substantial progress was made last week on farm bill topics, with expectations that a framework agreement will be unveiled when lawmakers return in 2014. Some farm bill topics will eventually be dealt with via votes by farm bill conferees.

RECORD NOVEMBER CRUSH FIGURE EXPECTED IN NOPA REPORT... NOPA members are expected to report soybean crushings totaled 161.3 million bu. in November, which if realized, would be a record for the month and roughly 4.2 million bu. more than October. In November 2012, NOPA members crushed 157.308 million bu. of soybeans. Soyoil stocks are guessed at 1.437 billion pounds.

MEXICO RESTARTS IMPORT DUTIES ON CORN, SORGHUM; IMPACT ON U.S. PRODUCTS UNCLEAR... Mexican Agriculture Minister Enrique Martinez y Martinez announced the government had withdrawn all trade privileges for corn and sorghum, two types of grains that Mexico primarily imports from the United States. The government will place a 20% import duty on corn and a 15% tax on sorghum imports, the minister said. The measure is justified, he said, because duty-free imports of those grains have had an aggravated impact on Mexican farmers, who have struggled as their farm-gate prices have plummeted against grains produced with government subsidies. While the minister made reference to countries lacking trade agreements with Mexico, he did not say whether the new duties would apply to the U.S., from which Mexico imports between 15 MMT and 20 MMT of corn and sorghum a year. Some observers believe the issue is linked to the ongoing country-of-origin labeling (COOL) dispute with between the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

RUSSIA RAISES GRAIN CROP FORECAST... Russia now expects to produce 95 MMT of grain in 2013-14, which is up from a forecast of 90 MMT previously, according to the country's ag minister. Wheat is expected to account for 55 MMT of the total. Meanwhile, the ag minister says the country needs to increase state grain stocks to 5 MMT from the current level of 1.7 MMT.

CHINA CONFIRMS NEW CASE OF BIRD FLU... A case of the H7N9 strain of bird flu was confirmed by Chinese health officials over the weekend. The detection was in China's Guangdong province. Key now is if this situation is isolated or if other cases of bird flu pop up. Previous instances of bird flu in China have tended to spread and linger.

CHINA'S MANUFACTURING GROWTH SLOWS... Growth in China's vast manufacturing sector slowed this month, according to initial readings, but data remains above the expansion threshold. China's flash HSBC purchasing managers' index (PMI) slipped to a three-month low of 50.5 compared to 50.8 in November, but that's still the fifth consecutive month with a reading above 50, which denotes overall expansion in the sector.

PRESIDENT OBAMA ACCEPTS INVITATION TO DELIVER STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS ON JAN. 28... House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) invited President Barack Obama to deliver the State of the Union address on Jan. 28, and the president has accepted. White House spokesman Jay Carney Dec. 13 confirmed the date had been set and that the president would be there. The speech will be delivered to a joint session of Congress at the Capitol, in the House chamber.

SHORT-TERM TOP IN CATTLE MARKET... Given the lower cash cattle prices in the Plains last week and heavy late-week pressure on Choice boxed beef prices, traders feel the cash and product markets have put in a short-term top. Therefore, buying interest will be limited in cattle futures to open the week.

CASH HOGS CALLED STEADY/WEAKER... Most pork plants are well supplied on slaughter needs and should have no difficulty filling out kill runs given hefty market-ready hog supplies. As a result, packers are expected to open the week with steady to weaker cash hog bids at most Midwest locations.

WEEKEND DEMAND NEWS... Exporters reported no tenders or purchases.


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