First Thing Today (VIP) -- February 12, 2014

February 12, 2014 12:27 AM

Good morning!

Corn and beans lower, wheat mixed this morning... As of 6:30 a.m. CT, corn futures are trading 1 to 2 cents lower, soybeans are 1 to 3 cents lower and wheat futures are narrowly mixed. The U.S. dollar index is firming after trading lower overnight.

Clean debt hike bill clears House; Senate to act soon, perhaps today... A standalone debt limit extension was passed by the House on Tuesday, after Republicans abandoned their effort to garner policy concessions in exchange for their support. Democrats praised the 221-201 vote. GOP leaders originally set the vote for a debt limit extension until March 2015 for Wednesday but moved the vote up to Tuesday evening because of an impending snowstorm expected to hit the East Coast late today. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada says he expects the Senate to clear the House-passed debt limit increase (S 540) today, though weather may be an issue. However, Texas Republican Ted Cruz said on Tuesday he would demand a 60-vote threshold for the bill and several other GOP lawmakers said they also would reject a motion to move the extension more easily through the chamber with a simple majority vote. If the Senate cannot get to a vote this week it will have to vote the week of Feb. 24, close to the point where the Treasury Department says it will exhaust those extraordinary measures. Some conservative activist groups are again upset at House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) for allowing a vote on the "clean" debt limit hike measure and are now calling it "The Boehner Debt Hike." When Boehner allowed the debt ceiling bill to pass with 193 Democratic votes, his detractors said he gave up on two "rules": the "Hastert rule," named for former Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), which states that the majority of the majority (Republicans) must support a bill; and the "Boehner rule," which mandates a dollar in spending cuts for every dollar the debt ceiling is raised.

Chinese January soy imports down from December but up from year-ago... China imported 5.91 MMT of soybeans in January, according to official customs data, which was down 20.1% from December but 23.7% more than year-ago. Soybean imports this month are expected to remain well above year-ago, with state-run China National Grain and Oils Information Center expecting the figure to top 5 MMT compared to 2.89 MMT in February 2013. Meanwhile, Chinese trade data was upbeat as its trade surplus widened to $31.86 billion last month from $25.6 billion in December. Exports at 10.6% above year-ago and imports at 10% more than last year both easily topped trade expectations.

Fed watching farmland values closely… The rise in U.S. farmland values has been one area that has been closely monitored by the Federal Reserve, Fed Chief Janet Yellen told lawmakers Tuesday in the first of two days of testimony on U.S. monetary policy. "I think (farm) land prices have been going up at a remarkable rate even before the stock market began to recover, and certainly have caught our attention as an area where we would be concerned about valuations," Yellen told lawmakers. "We have been watching that very closely." Her comments on farmland came in answer to questions from members of the House Financial Services Committee. She will appear before the Senate Banking Committee Thursday.

EU GMO corn approval lands with European Commission... European Union member countries failed to approve a GMO corn variety offered by DuPont (Pioneer 1507) as 19 member states opposed the approval, five voted yes and four abstained. Under EU rules, that did not meet the criteria for an outright rejection, putting the decision in the hands of the European Commission. In a statement, DuPont Pioneer said the corn "should be approved for cultivation without further delay" and that the EU has a "legal obligation to itself, to its farmers and scientists and to its trade partners." The process so far has taken 13 years relative to the strain developed jointly between DuPont and Dow chemical.

New diarrhea-causing disease detected on Ohio hog farms... Pork producers and veterinarians in Ohio are being warned about a new coronavirus causing diarrhea in sows and young pigs that has been detected in fecal samples from four hog farms in Ohio, according to the state's Department of Agriculture. The clinical signs of the disease are similar to that of porcine epidemic diarrhea virus (PEDV) and transmissible gastroenteritis (TGE), but distinct from those two viruses.

Boxed beef price slide resumes... After modest gains Monday, Choice boxed beef prices plunged $2.02 yesterday and Select values were 85 cents lower. Movement improved to 166 loads on the price drop, but until prices show signs of bottoming and movement reflects active retailer demand, the product market won't have put in a short-term low.

Pork market continues to strengthen... The pork cutout value hasn't been posting strong gains, but prices continue to strengthen and movement has stayed very solid. That's keeping packer margins deeply in the black and supporting cash hog bids. Given strong margins, cash hog bids are expected to remain steady to firmer at most Midwest locations today.

Overnight demand news... Japan purchased 28,655 MT of Canadian milling wheat and tendered to buy 286,091 MT of U.S., Canadian and Australian wheat in its weekly tender. Also, Japan received no bids in a tender to buy 120,000 MT of feed wheat and 200,000 MT of feed barely. Egypt tendered to buy 20,000 MT of optional origin soyoil.


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