First Thing Today (VIP) -- December 24, 2013

December 24, 2013 12:35 AM


LIGHT AND CHOPPY TRADE OVERNIGHT... As of 6:30 a.m. CT, corn futures are narrowly mixed, while soybeans and wheat are fractionally to 2 cents lower. Light trade is expected throughout today's shortened trading session. The U.S. dollar is holding near unchanged with a slight upside slant this morning.

HOLIDAY TRADING HOURS... Grain markets close at noon CT today, while trading in livestock markets halts at 12:15 p.m. CT. All markets and government offices are closed Wednesday for Christmas. Grain markets will resume trading at 8:30 a.m. CT on Thursday, while livestock markets will reopen at 9:05 a.m. CT.

U.S. DDG SHIPMENTS TO CHINA UNINTERRUPTED... While China has rejected 545,000 MT of U.S. corn to date due to the presence of an unapproved GMO trait, shipments of U.S. dried distillers grains (DDGs) have not been affected, according to China National Grain and Oils Information Center. The state-run think-tank expects monthly Chinese imports of DDGs to average about 500,000 MT the remainder of the marketing year and forecasts 2013-14 imports of the corn by-product to be record-large at 4.5 MMT, which would be a 60% increase from 2012-13.

CHINA POISED TO KEEP GROWTH TARGET AT 7.5%... China is likely to set a GDP growth goal of 7.5% for 2014, the same as this year, sources at a commerce ministry think-tank have told Reuters. The government expects a recovery in exports due to stronger demand from rebounding developed economies. China's leaders are aiming to keep growth steady even as they try to implement deep structural reforms.

RUSSIA SAID TO BE MULLING BAN ON AUSTRALIAN BEEF DUE TO RACTOPAMINE... Russian veterinarians are saying they may put a ban on imports of Australian beef after discovering ractopamine and trenbolone in shipments. Both compounds are not allowed for use in Russia and ractopamine has been Russia's reason for banning U.S. beef and pork. Reports signal the ban could come over the next week or two. Already, restrictions are in place on eight of 47 Australian firms that had been cleared to export beef to Russia. Some speculate the possible Russian action on Australian beef may be linked to expectations for the ban on U.S. beef to be lifted in 2014.

CASH CATTLE UNCERTAINTY... Showlist numbers are down from week-ago across the Plains except for Colorado, but packers are buying cattle futures another holiday-shortened kill next week. Therefore, traders are uncertain which way to lean on expected cash cattle trade this week. Given Christmas is Wednesday, most cash sources aren't looking to cash trade to get started until after the one-day holiday break.

WHOLESALE PORK MARKET REMAINS UNDER PRESSURE... The pork cutout value dropped another 31 cents Monday to extend the recent price plunge. The pace of declines in the cutout value slowed, however, as loins, butts and picnics were all sharply higher. Plus, movement was very solid at 408.9 loads on the day. It's too early to call a bottom in the pork product market, but a seasonal low may be close.

OVERNIGHT DEMAND NEWS... South Korea purchased 120,000 MT of U.S. corn -- 60,000 MT of which was switched from Black Sea origin. India tendered to export 60,000 MT of wheat.


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