CORN AND BEANS LOWER, WHEAT MIXED... As of 6:30 a.m. CT, corn futures are fractionally to 1 cent lower, soybeans are mostly 6 to 8 cents lower, Chicago and Kansas City wheat futures are narrowly mixed and Minneapolis wheat is steady to 1 cent lower. The U.S. dollar index is higher this morning.
WEEKLY EXPORT SALES REPORT OUT THIS MORNING... For the week ended March 7, traders expect: corn sales between 200,000 and 500,000 MT; wheat sales between 500,000 and 800,000 MT; soybean sales between 700,000 and 1.1 million MT; soymeal sales between 100,000 and 200,000 MT; and soyoil sales between 5,000 and 15,000 MT.
PRIVATE FIRM CUTS EU WHEAT CROP FORECAST... Strategie Grains cut its 2013 wheat production forecast for the European Union to 131.6 MMT from 132.2 MMT last month due to lower planted acreage estimates for Britain, France, Italy and Poland. The firm's wheat production forecast is still 5% above year-ago.
RUSSIA GRAIN CROP, EXPORT UPDATE... The head of Russia's Institute for Agricultural Market Studies (IKAR) forecasts this year's grain production will total 90 MMT to 92 MMT (50 MMT o of wheat), compared to a forecast of 95 MMT from the Russian government. Assuming production at that level and government purchases of 6 MMT for intervention stocks, that would leave around 20 MMT of grain for export in 2013-14, according to the official. Meanwhile, Russia plans to buy wheat in the August-October period to replenish government stocks and to support domestic prices, according to the country's deputy ag minister.
CHINESE MILLS EXPECTED TO BUY MORE COTTON FROM STATE RESERVES... Chinese mill demand for state-owned cotton reserves has been tepid, but is expected to increase amid rising U.S. prices and tightening supplies outside of China. Traders expect Chinese mills to buy 3 MMT to 4 MMT of state-owned cotton over the next five months, while the government is hoping to sell 4.5 MMT of its massive 10 MMT inventory. China currently holds roughly 60% of world cotton supplies in state reserves.
USDA TO FURLOUGH MEAT INSPECTORS ONE DAY A WEEK FROM MID-JULY THROUGH SEPTEMBER... USDA plans to furlough meat inspectors for one day a week over the last three months of the fiscal year, starting in mid-July, the House Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee was told Wednesday. The plan includes 11 total furlough days and is based on the Office of Management and Budget's estimate that the Food Safety Inspection Service would have to cut $53 million under the budget sequester, said Elisabeth Hagen, USDA's undersecretary for food safety. Slaughterhouses would have to shut down on those furlough days. USDA did not ask appropriators for authority to avoid the furloughs.
CASH CATTLE JUST GETTING STARTED... Packers and feedlots are still $5 apart on bids and asking prices as packers were slow to issue initial bids. The late start to cash negotiations signals active cash cattle trade isn't likely until late today or Friday. Most traders are still anticipating steady to slightly higher bids compared to last week's mostly $128 trade.
PORK MARGINS TIGHTEN... The combination of mostly steady cash hog bids and a modest 11-cent decline in the pork cutout value Wednesday tightened packer cutting margins. With packers bought ahead on slaughter needs and trying to keep margins above breakeven, demand for cash hogs is likely to remain limited. Cash hog bids are expected to remain steady at most Midwest locations today.
OVERNIGHT DEMAND NEWS... Japan purchased 130,533 MT of wheat from its weekly tender, including 65,013 MT of U.S. supplies. Japan received no bids in a tender to buy 120,000 MT of feed wheat and 200,000 MT of feed barley. China bought 13,700 MT of Indian corn. Vietnam purchased 15,000 MT of Indian corn.