Corn and wheat slightly firmer, beans mostly weaker this morning... As of 6:30 a.m. CT, corn futures are steady to 1 cent higher, soybeans are mixed with most contracts 1 to 3 cents lower and wheat futures are 1 to 3 cents higher. The U.S. dollar index is holding near unchanged this morning.
FOMC, State of the Union and farm bill keys for the week ahead... President Obama addresses a joint session of Congress Tuesday to deliver his State of the Union message, one in which he is expected to announce a push via several executive orders since congressional bickering has hamstrung his agenda. Lawmakers have also closed in on a farm bill deal and should wrap up work on the package this week (see related item). But the big focus for markets will be on Wednesday's Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting conclusion. Key will be whether the Fed opts to continue tapering their massive asset purchase program. At the conclusion of the December FOMC meeting, a $10 billion reduction in the stimulus effort was announced and markets, especially those in emerging countries, are wary of the Fed's decision this month. The first look at U.S. fourth quarter GDP arrives after the Fed session and will be one of the key economic focuses this week.
House farm bill vote likely Wednesday... All signs point to a House vote on the nearly $1 trillion new farm bill on Wednesday. We see no major surprises from what we have previously reported, although there are several lingering issues that will be decided by farm bill principals today -- country-of-origin labeling (COOL) language and poultry marketing competition language -- the so-called GIPSA amendment. Payment caps will reportedly be $125,000 for an individual, $250,000 for a couple. There is no supply management language in the new gross margin dairy safety net program, but some last-minute tweaks apparently were enough to satisfy some holdouts. There is conservation compliance linkage to crop insurance.
Ministry raises Chinese soy import forecast... China's Ministry of Commerce raised its January soybean import forecast to 5.27 MMT from 4.61 MMT previously. That's still slightly lower than the 5.35 MMT of soybean imports state-run China National Grain and Oils Information Center is forecasting for this month. The Ministry of Commerce expects China's soybean imports to slip to 3.42 MMT in February.
China bird flu update... China's ag ministry says it has not found bird flu in poultry farms but there have been eight positive samples from live poultry markets since the beginning of 2014 in the provinces of Guangdong, Fujiang and Zhejiang and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. Human cases of H7N9 bird flu have been reported in six provinces, with Zhejiang reporting the most cases. Chinese health officials also say there is no proof of human-to-human transmission of the disease. Meanwhile, China's vice premier called for a coordinated effort to control bird flu, especially during the upcoming Lunar New Year celebration.
Cattle on Feed Report slightly negative... Last Friday's Cattle on Feed Report showed all three categories on the negative side of the average pre-report guesses. That could be enough to extend the corrective pullback in live cattle futures after record highs early last week. But with futures trading well below last week's record cash cattle prices, selling interest should be relatively limited.
Poor weather will slow hog movement... High winds, extremely cold temps and poor road conditions across the Midwest will limit hog movement to open the week. And the poor weather may cause some pork plants to reduce kill hours or close today. As a result, demand for cash hogs will be limited.
Weekend demand news... Saudi Arabia purchased 595,000 MT of hard milling wheat and 120,000 MT of soft milling wheat -- North American, South American, European or Australian origin supplies will be accepted.