First Thing Today (VIP) -- December 17, 2013

December 17, 2013 12:05 AM


GRAINS MIXED TO SLIGHTLY LOWER... As of 6:30 a.m. CT, corn futures are trading steady to fractionally lower, soybeans are mostly 3 to 5 cents lower and wheat futures are narrowly mixed. The U.S. dollar index is holding near unchanged.

USTR COMMENTS ON U.S.-CHINA CORN TRADE ISSUE... As the U.S. corn market remains nervous about China’s rejections of U.S. corn shipments due to the presence of GMO corn that China has not yet approved, the office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) said they are "closely" monitoring the situation. "We have raised concerns with Chinese officials regarding increasing delays in the approval process for biotech events," a USTR spokeswoman said. "Our expectation is that biotech approvals will be handled in a timely and predictable manner, through a transparent, science-based process." The issue is also expected to be raised via U.S.-China discussions this week in Beijing.

RUSSIA TO STOP USING GRAIN EXPORT EMBARGOES... Russia will stop using grain export embargoes to limit grain sales abroad in years of limited domestic supplies, according to Agriculture Minister Nikolai Fyodorov. Instead, he says the country will rely on "commodity and purchase interventions" to ensure adequate domestic supplies.

SENATE TO VOTE LATER THIS WEEK ON YELLEN... Senators this week plan to vote on the confirmation of Janet Yellen to succeed Ben Bernanke as chair of the Federal Reserve. The vote likely will happen Thursday or Friday and may be one of the last things lawmakers do before adjourning for the year. Yellen is expected to win confirmation, but could garner the most "no" votes of any of her predecessors. Although Bernanke’s term as chairman expires Jan. 31, he may remain on the board as a Fed governor until 2020. However, most believe he will step down from the board when his chairmanship ends.

LATE-WEEK CASH CATTLE TRADE AGAIN EXPECTED... Traders aren't anticipating any movement in the cash cattle market until Thursday or Friday as another week of extended negotiations are expected. Feedlots are hoping to get higher prices for cash cattle as showlist numbers are down from week-ago, market-ready supplies are tight and boxed beef prices posted sharp gains Monday. But packers are working with negative cutting margins and won't likely want to be too aggressive with bids since they are buying cattle for a shortened slaughter schedule next week.

PORK CUTOUT SURGES... The pork cutout value surged $3.81 Monday as all cuts were higher and all except butts rose more than $2.00. Even with the sharp price surge, packers moved a respectable 326.27 loads of product on the day. Despite the strong performance in the pork product market, it's unlikely packers will raise cash hog bids as they are having no problems securing needed supplies.

OVERNIGHT DEMAND NEWS... South Korea purchased 65,000 MT of U.S. corn. Egypt tendered to buy at least one cargo of optional origin wheat, with results coming later this morning. Israel tendered to purchase 45,000 MT of corn, 25,000 MT of feed wheat and 25,000 MT of feed barley -- all optional origin. Jordan tendered to buy 100,000 MT of optional origin wheat. Tunisia tendered to buy 134,000 MT of durum wheat, 109,000 MT of soft wheat and 25,000 MT of feed barley -- all optional origin.


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