CORN AND BEANS FIRMER, WHEAT MIXED OVERNIGHT... As of 6:30 a.m. CT, corn futures are 1 to 2 cents higher, soybeans are mostly 4 to 6 cents higher, SRW and HRS wheat futures are narrowly mixed and HRW futures are 1 to 2 cents higher. The U.S. dollar index is modestly weaker this morning.
KEY WEEK IN WASHINGTON FOR BUDGET, FARM BILL NEGOTIATIONS... Barring a change, House members will recess for the year on Friday, Dec. 13; the Senate will be in session until Dec. 20. The end of session timeline will bring a host of issues to the front, with possible announcements this week or next, including information about budget and farm bill conference negotiations. This week, Janet Yellen, Ben Bernanke's replacement at the helm of the Federal Reserve could be confirmed by a Senate vote. The nomination of Yellen, who is currently the Fed's vice chair, passed out of the Senate Banking Committee with a 14-8 vote last month and is expected to easily receive the 51 votes necessary for final approval. Senate leadership is expected to bring a vote to the floor before recess begins Dec. 20. USDA will issue its monthly Supply & Demand Report on Tuesday.
FARM BILL UPDATE... Conference negotiators and staff are waiting on budget scores from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) regarding various options dealing with making Title I (farmer safety net) payments on some type of base acre calculation. If those budget scores provide no major negative surprise, a general framework agreement could be announced by week's end, with details to be provided early in January 2014, when the full Congress would be expected to vote on the conference report. A short-term extension of portions of the 2008 Farm Bill, especially language on avoiding permanent legislation dairy policy, is expected.
HEARING TO FOCUS ON RFS... On Wednesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hold a hearing on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). EPA recently scaled back the mandate. The committee will hear from senior EPA and Energy Department officials, as well as supporters and critics of the biofuels mandate. No major RFS legislation is expected to pass the full Congress this year or even next year, despite chatter to the contrary.
CHINESE SOY IMPORTS SOAR IN NOVEMBER... China imported 6.03 MMT of soybeans in November, up 43.9% from October, according to official customs data. January through November soybean imports totaled 55.97 MMT, up 6.6% from year-ago. Meanwhile, China's trade surplus widened to $33.8 billion in November from $31.1 billion the month prior. Chinese exports rose 12.7% over year-ago, while imports increased 5.3% in November.
CHINESE INFLATION EASES IN NOVEMBER... China's Consumer Price Index (CPI) came in at 3% above year-ago in November, down from a 3.2% increase in October. Food prices rose 5.9% over year-ago last month, while non-food prices firmed 1.6%. Through the first 11 months of this year, China's CPI is 2.6% above year-ago, well below the Chinese government target of 3.5%.
WEAKER CASH CATTLE EXPECTATIONS... Traders come into the week with concerns the cash cattle market has posted a short-term top. While wintry weather in the Plains will slow weight gains and make transportation more difficult, pressure on boxed beef prices late last week and negative cutting margins will make packers reluctant to pay steady to firmer prices for cash cattle this week.
WEATHER COULD SLOW HOG MOVEMENT... Snow-covered roads along with bitterly cold temps could slow hog movement across the Midwest today. Given strong cutting margins, packers are expected to open the week with steady to firmer cash hog bids as they work to secure slaughter needs. Most pork plants need hogs for mid-week forward.
WEEKEND DEMAND NEWS... Exporters reported no tenders or purchases.