First Thing Today
Followthrough selling in soybeans, corn... Soybean futures extended the downtrend overnight, with most contracts trading 4 to 6 cents lower. Corn futures are steady to fractionally lower after a quiet overnight session. SRW and HRW wheat futures are a penny higher, while HRS wheat is narrowly mixed. The U.S. dollar index is marginally lower, while crude oil futures are slightly higher, providing limited price direction.
Key lawmakers signal they will vote for Perdue... Ranking member Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said that barring any surprising responses, she was prepared to vote for Perdue. "After multiple discussions with him, I believe he can do a good job running the department. Barring anything that comes up in questions for the record, I’m planning on supporting him,” Stabenow said after the hearing. "I concur,” said Roberts. “Welcome to a nominee who not only knows agriculture, but cares about it.” Roberts said he’s told Senate leaders he wants Perdue’s nomination on the floor as quickly as possible after the committee votes. He does not have a date for that vote and was unsure if Perdue could be confirmed before Easter break in April.
Health care vote with wide-ranging implications scheduled for today... A House vote to replace ObamaCare is expected today after a one-day delay, with votes possible as early as 9:00 a.m. CT. Investors view the bill as a key test of the Trump administration’s ability to implement its wider policy agenda, including tax reform and infrastructure spending plans. White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney says if the bill fails, President Donald Trump will leave the 2010 health law in place. An updated assessment from the Congressional Budget Office found that provisions added in recent days mean the bill would reduce the federal deficit by more than $150 billion over a decade, compared with $337 billion in savings in the initial bill. House leaders added an additional $85 billion pot of money to offer more generous tax credits for older Americans.
El Nino not expected to arrive until late in India's monsoon season... El Nino is unlikely to arrive until the latter part of India's four-month monsoon season, signaling the nation's crop should make it through this key period relatively unscathed, according to the director of India's Meteorological Department. Since El Nino is not expected to arrive until after July, monsoon rains are expected to arrive on time.
India preparing to reinstate tax on wheat imports... As India prepares to bring in a large winter crop, the government is considering a plant to re-impose a tax on wheat importers, Ram Vilas Paswan, minister of Consumer Affairs, Food & Public Distribution said today. He details that the government plans to wait a few weeks to impose the tax in order to assess actual harvest volume. The country lowered the duty from 25% to 10% in September and then scrapped the tariff altogether in December due to a supply shortfall.
Grain lobby expects rebound in EU wheat production... The European Union will likely produce a 144.8 MMT soft wheat crop in 2017, up 9.7 MMT from 2016, according to the grain lobby Cocereal. It continues that the corn crop will likely climb slightly to 61.0 MMT, with barley production expected to stabilize at 59.6 MMT.
Cotton AWP moves higher. The Adjusted World Price (AWP) for cotton will be 68.26 cents per pound, effective today, according to USDA. That is up from 67.92 cents per pound the prior week and marks the second time in the last two weeks the AWP has been at 68 cents or more.
China eases trade restrictions on Aussie beef... On Friday, China removed its final restrictions on imports of Australian beef as part of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang's visit to the country. The nation will now accept chilled beef exports from all licensed exporters, whereas previously it accepted beef from just 11 authorized shippers. China also announced early-stage plans to co-develop a major mine, rail and port project in Western Australia.
EU asks Brazil to voluntarily halt its meat shipments to the bloc... The European Union has asked Brazil to voluntarily suspend all meat shipments to the bloc so it can avoid putting in place a ban that would take time to lift. But Brazil has refused to do so, with a spokeswoman for Ag Minister Blairo Maggi saying he was not aware of the request. Brazil has suspended meat shipments from the 21 meat packing plants involved in the bribery scandal. Meanwhile, JBS SA says it has suspended production at 33 of its 36 plants, noting it plans to resume production next week at about 35% capacity.
Cattle on Feed expected to reflect current feedlots situation... USDA will release its monthly Cattle on Feed Report at 2:00 p.m. CT today. Traders expect the report to show there were around 10.775 million head of cattle on feed as of March 1, up 0.1% from year-ago levels. Placements are expected to come in at 98.9% of year-ago levels, with marketings at 103.3% of last year's level.
Cattle traders unconcerned about aligning futures with cash... Rather than working to align the futures with the cash market, traders engaged in profit-taking ahead of USDA's COF Report. This signals they still expect cash prices to drop significantly in the weeks ahead. Some fairly active trade took place yesterday around $134.50 in Nebraska and $136.50 in Iowa yesterday, which contrasts with sales of a few hundred head in Kansas at $126. USDA reports that so far this week, cash cattle trade has taken place at an average price of $132.16.
Definitive reversal higher for hogs... The lean hog market traded in a wide, volatile trading range on Thursday, with prices posting a bullish reversal on the day amid ideas prices are too low relative to the cattle market. This technical posture gives bulls the clear near-term advantage.
Overnight demand news... Turkey purchased 88,000 MT of feed barley in an international tender. Jordan made no purchase in its international tender for 100,000 MT of feed barley; the country has also issued an international tender to buy 50,000 MT of hard milling wheat from optional origins.