First Thing Today (VIP) -- March 26, 2013

March 26, 2013 01:36 AM


CHOPPY TRADE IN GRAINS... As of 6:30 a.m. CT, corn and soybean futures are narrowly mixed, while wheat futures at all three exchanges are modestly firmer. The U.S. dollar index is also anchored near unchanged this morning.

SOME FREEZE DAMAGE LIKELY... Crop watchers say sub-freezing temps across areas of the Plains the past two nights will cause some damage to the winter wheat crop, although it will be at lease several days before the extent of damage will be known. Crops in Texas and southern Oklahoma are most at risk because there is more of the crop jointing there than in areas farther north.

CROP INSURANCE INDEMNITIES HIT $16 BIL. FOR 2012 CROPS... Payouts for 2012 crops reached $16.003 billion as of March 25, continuing to set a new record for indemnities while the slight uptick kept the loss ratio at 1.44. Corn payouts now are at $10.664 billion (2.47 loss ratio) with soybeans now at $2.023 billion and cotton at $1.076 billion. The loss ratio on soybeans, however, remains under 1.0 so far.

PRIVATE FIRM RAISES UKRAINE GRAIN FORECAST... UkrAgroConsult raises its 2013 Ukraine grain crop forecast to 53.3 MMT from 53.1 MMT previously due to expectations for bigger wheat and barley crops. The private consulting firm sees wheat production at 21.07 MMT, the corn crop at 21.2 MMT and barley production at 8.3 MMT. As we reported in "Evening Report" on Monday, USDA's Foreign Ag Service says winter grains in Ukraine are generally in good condition as they break dormancy in southern territories.

CHINA TO CONTINUE STOCKPILING COTTON... China will soon announce its purchase price for this year's cotton crop as the government attempts to boost domestic production, according to an official with the National Development and Reform Commission. To date, China has stockpiled 6.46 MMT of last year's crop, which textile mills says has pushed domestic prices too high. But China is expected to release additional stocks from government stockpiles starting next month to help domestic mills.

BERNANKE DISPUTES CURRENCY WAR CHARGE... The easy money policies deployed by the U.S., Europe, Japan and others have prompted criticism those policies are sparking a global currency war. But Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke disputed that contention in remarks to the London School of Business. Rather, he argued those policies will help global growth overall. "Because stronger growth in each economy confers beneficial spillovers to trading partners, these policies are not ‘beggar-thy-neighbor’ but rather are positive-sum, ‘enrich-thy-neighbor actions,’" Bernanke argued. "In sum, the advanced industrial economies are currently pursuing appropriately expansionary policies to help support recovery and price stability in their own countries."

BOXED BEEF PRICES DROP... Choice boxed beef prices were 85 cents lower, while Select cuts plunged $2.07 Monday. Packers moved a solid 172 loads of product yesterday, but they will be reluctant to raise cash cattle bids this week if boxed beef prices continue to slip as cutting margins are solidly back in the red.

PORK MOVEMENT STAYS LIGHT... The pork cutout value was 68 cents higher Monday, but packers moved only 24.63 loads of cuts and trim on the day. With traders concerned about pork demand, the sluggish movement yesterday won't spark any buying interest in futures, especially with the cash market expected to remain under pressure.

OVERNIGHT DEMAND NEWS... South Korea tendered to buy 70,000 MT of optional origin corn, up to 55,000 MT of optional origin feed wheat and 33,000 MT of Australian milling wheat.


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