First Thing Today (VIP) -- January 17, 2014

January 17, 2014 12:18 AM

Good morning!

Mostly weaker price tone overnight... As of 6:30 a.m. CT, corn futures are trading 1 to 2 cents lower, soybeans are facing bull spread unwinding with old-crop contracts 2 to 6 cents lower and new-crop 2 to 5 cents higher, and wheat futures are fractionally to 3 cents lower in most contracts. The U.S. dollar index is mildly firmer this morning.

Peterson says he will not block farm bill over dairy issue... Our farm bill sources say the lengthy process is all but over. Rep. Collin Peterson (D-Minn.) says that although he has not yet seen all the details of compromise for dairy subsidy provisions proposed by House Ag Chairman and farm bill conference leader Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), "If it's what I'm hearing, I won't be happy but I'm not going to hold the bill up." The agreement excludes supply management language to the satisfaction of House Speaker John Boehner. There are some other lingering issues that need to be resolved, including crop subsidy provisions and country-of-origin labeling language, but we're told those will be settled before lawmakers return Jan. 27 from their latest break.

Chinese bird flu cases rise, concerns escalate... China reported four new human cases of H7N9 bird flu today and concerns over the spread of the virus among some in the country are rising as China prepares for its Lunar New Year celebration, which begins on Jan. 31 this year. But Chinese health officials continue to say concern of a major outbreak of human cases is low. Meanwhile, egg futures, which debuted on the Dalian Commodity Exchange in November, posted a new contract low overnight amid worries of a bird flu outbreak.

Rising grain imports hurting Chinese market... Hefty grain imports and government-owned stocks are negatively impacting the domestic market, according to the head of China's State Grain Administration. He says China's cereal grain imports in the 2013 calendar year totaled around 15 MMT, up around 1 MMT from 2012. Meanwhile, he says grain stocks held by the central and local governments are greater than commercial supplies, limiting the functionality of the domestic market.

Canada tells U.S. to make a decision on Keystone... Canada appears to be losing patience with U.S. foot dragging over the Keystone XL pipeline, with Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird saying that his country wants a decision on the project -- even a negative one -- sooner rather than later. It appears to mark the first time a senior Canadian official has directly criticized Washington on the topic. "We can’t continue in this state of limbo," Baird said.

SF Fed’s Williams notes concerns on QE impacts... Concerns about the impacts of the massive asset purchase effort by the Fed and a view that the FOMC may have to ratchet up its inflation target were two takeaways from remarks from San Francisco Fed President John Williams delivered Thursday. "There are nagging concerns that large-scale asset purchases carry with them particular risks to the economy or the health of the financial system that we still don't fully understand," Williams noted. He wants to see additional research done on the impacts of the tool used to help pull the U.S. economy higher. In addition, Williams also raised the issue of whether the Fed’s inflation target needed to be raised above its current 2% mark.

Record run continues in wholesale beef market... Choice boxed beef prices surged another $4.17 Thursday, while Select values were $3.60 higher. Surging boxed beef prices have pushed packer margins above breakeven for the first time since mid-September. Therefore, feedlots are holding out for even higher cash cattle prices than the $2 higher bids that prompted light sales earlier this week.

Pork product market strengthening... The pork cutout value was $1.39 higher Thursday while packers moved a solid 367.90 loads of product on the day. Surging wholesale beef prices should encourage retailers to buy more pork, which is cheap compared to beef.

Markets closed Monday. Grain and livestock markets will observe normal trading hours today ahead of the extended holiday weekend. All markets and government offices are closed Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Grain markets resume trade at 7:00 p.m. CT on Monday, Jan. 20, while livestock markets will reopen at 9:05 a.m. CT on Tuesday, Jan. 21.

Overnight demand news... Taiwan purchased 60,000 MT of U.S. corn. Japan tendered to buy 49,935 MT of Canadian wheat. India tendered to export 120,000 MT of wheat.


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