First Thing Today (VIP) -- March 27, 2014

March 27, 2014 01:07 AM

Good morning!

Followthrough from Wednesday's trade overnight... As of 6:30 a.m. CT, soybean futures are trading 2 to 7 cents higher, while wheat futures are 3 to 5 cents lower in a extension of Wednesday's price action. Corn futures remain caught in the middle and are narrowly mixed early this morning. The U.S. dollar index is mildly firmer this morning.

Senate to vote today on Ukraine aid... The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote today on a
an aid plan for Ukraine that would authorize $50 million in aid for the next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, plus an additional $100 million for security assistance and other purposes in FY 2015 through fiscal 2017. The measure also includes provisions on sanctions against Russian officials while the House measure would have a larger number of people potentially covered by sanctions. The Senate version would require three executive-branch departments -- State, Treasury and Justice -- to identify and recover assets linked to corruption by Ukrainian officials. Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) announced it reached agreement with Ukraine for up to $18 billion in loans in exchange for economic reforms in Ukraine, including higher natural gas prices for consumers. While Ukraine officials labeled the reforms as "painful," an official with their state gas company said tariffs for consumers on natural gas would rise 50% as of May 1. The IMF board still has to approve the package and will meet in April for that purpose.

Weekly export sales out this morning... For the week ended March 20, traders expect: corn sales between 525,000 and 725,000 MT; wheat sales between 325,000 and 475,000 MT; soybean sales between 100,000 and 250,000 MT; soymeal sales between 100,000 and 200,000 MT; and soyoil sales between 0 and 50,000 MT.

Canada passes bill requiring railroads to move grain... On March 7, the Canadian government ordered the country's two largest railroads, Canadian National and Canadian Pacific, to each increase weekly grain movement to at least 500,000 MT within a month. The mandate became law yesterday and is in effect from April 7 to Aug. 3, 2014. The bill also lets the Canadian government specify the minimum volume of grain each railway must move during any period in subsequent crop years.

Crimea may push Russian grain production up 2 MMT... Russia may increase its 2014 grain production forecast by upwards of 2 MMT due to the addition of Crimea, according to Ag Minister Nikolai Fyodorov. For now, however, the grain crop forecast remains at 95 MMT with 2013-14 exports still at 22 MMT.

Egypt aims to import less wheat... Egypt, the world's top wheat importer at around 10 MMT per year, hopes to trim that by 1 MMT to 1.5 MMT in the next fiscal year, the country's new supply minister told Reuters. He plans to reform Egypt's subsidized bread program by securing more domestically grown wheat, improving storage and cutting down on waste. He faces a daunting challenge in his efforts as Egypt has tried before to rely less on wheat imports without success.

China to require mills to buy more state cotton... Chinese textile mills will get 1 MMT of cotton import quotas for every 4 MMT of state-owned reserves they purchase, multiple sources with knowledge of the situation told Reuters. China is trying to reduce is massive state cotton reserves, which account for roughly 60% of global stocks. Last year, Chinese mills got 1 MMT of cotton import quotas for every 3 MMT of state cotton they purchased.

EPA's McCarthy defends Clean Water Act proposal… The proposed rule from the EPA on navigable waters has caused concern in farm country and that became evident in a Senate hearing Wednesday. Lawmakers pressed EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy on whether the proposed rule would require a new Clean Water Act permit to be obtained by farmers or ranchers who use other existing farming and ranching practices or who utilize one of the 53 identified conservation practices in a way that slightly differs from the definition of those practices that is set by USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service. McCarthy reiterated that the rule does not remove any existing agricultural exemptions and aims to provide clarity to the agricultural community. "Nobody needs to get a permit under this rule should it go forward as proposed that didn't need it today," she said.

Boxed beef movement stays light... Packers moved 149 loads of boxed beef Wednesday, which was the highest level in a week. The recent slowdown in beef demand signals retailers are hesitant to buy historically high-priced beef and suggests they will feature more pork and poultry than normal during the upcoming grilling season.

Wholesale pork market stays strong... The pork cutout value firmed to a record $131.23 Wednesday. But perhaps more importantly, movement has rebounded the past two days after a sluggish start on Monday. That signals there's still plenty of retailer demand despite record-high prices as pork is cheap compared to beef.

Overnight demand news... Tunisia tendered to buy 50,000 MT of optional origin soft milling wheat and 25,000 MT of optional origin feed barley.


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