BEANS LEAD GAINS OVERNIGHT... Soybean futures are being supported by continued, although unconfirmed, talk of Chinese demand and improved Chinese economic data. As of 6:30 a.m. CT, soybean futures are trading mostly 15 to 20 cents higher, corn 3 to 6 cents higher and wheat futures mostly 5 to 6 cents higher at all three exchanges. The U.S. dollar index is mildly firmer this morning.
CHINA MANUFACTURING DATA PERKS UP... China's official purchasing managers' index (PMI) rose to 50.2 in October from 49.8 in September, the first reading above the expansion/contraction mark (50) since July. Meanwhile, the final HSBC PMI came in at 49.5 for October from 47.9 in September. The PMI data suggests monetary policy easing is taking hold and the Chinese economy is starting to perk up after bottoming in September.
HRW CROP WORSE THAN YEAR-AGO, SRW CROP BETTER... When USDA's initial winter wheat crop condition ratings are plugged into the state-weighted Pro Farmer Crop Condition Index (CCI; 0 to 500 point scale), the HRW crop comes in at 312 while the SRW crop stands at 376. HRW is down 19 points and SRW is up 14 points from year-ago.
FIRM CUTS RUSSIAN GRAIN, WHEAT CROP FORECASTS... Private firm SovEcon cut its 2012 Russian grain crop forecast to 69 MMT from 70.5 MMT previously. The wheat crop forecast was cut 500,000 MT to 37.5 MMT. Russia's ag ministry officially estimates the grain crop at 71.7 MMT and wheat output at 40 MMT.
ROBERTS: FARM BILL WILL BE DONE IN LAME-DUCK SESSION; WILL SEEK REELECTION IN 2014... Sen. Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), ranking member on the Senate Ag Committee, told a gathering in Kansas earlier this week that when it comes to a new farm bill, "We will probably see that voted on right away... We will get a farm bill," he said. "We will get it done." Roberts is sometimes mentioned as a possible USDA Secretary should GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney win election. But Roberts has already announced he will seek another term in 2014. "I've already announced I'm running in 2014," he said. "We're still making a difference."
CHINA TO STOCKPILE SUGAR... The Chinese government will stockpile sugar again in 2012-13 to support domestic prices, according to an official with the National Development and Reform Commission. The official also says China will limit sugar imports. No start date for the stockpiling program or tonnage were given, although the government is expected to buy a large amount of sugar from farmers. In 2011-12, China stockpiled 1.5 MMT of sugar.
BOXED BEEF PRICES PLUNGE... Boxed beef prices dropped sharply Wednesday with Choice cuts $3.40 lower and Select down $1.23. Packers moved 228 loads amid the sharply lower prices, but this won't help feedlots' efforts to secure better bids than the $126 to $127 prices packers paid for cash cattle so far this week.
STRONG PERFORMANCE BY PORK PRODUCT MARKET... The pork cutout value was 99 cents higher Wednesday and packers moved a strong 104.75 loads of product on the day. With the pork product market strengthening sharply the past two days it should limit pressure on the cash hog market and on lean hog futures.
WEEKLY EXPORT SALES DELAYED... Due to USDA closures for Superstorm Sandy earlier this week, export sales data for the week ended Oct. 25 is delayed until Friday morning.
OVERNIGHT DEMAND NEWS... South Korea purchased 24,700 MT of U.S. wheat. Israel bought 90,000 MT of corn and 25,000 MT of barley -- likely Ukrainian origin.