First Thing Today: Senate Will Vote on Perdue after Easter Recess

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Choppy overnight action amid position evening... Corn futures traded in a narrow range on either side of unchanged overnight and the market is currently posting fractional losses. Soybeans are steady to a penny higher in most contracts after a choppy overnight session Wheat futures are mixed, with HRS favoring the upside. The U.S. dollar index is just above unchanged, while crude oil futures are slightly higher.


Perdue’s confirmation vote scheduled after lawmakers return... The Senate will finally vote on USDA Secretary-nominee Sonny Perdue on April 24, the day the Senate returns from its two-week recess. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced he cut a deal with his Democratic counterpart setting when the chamber will vote on former Georgia Governor Perdue's cabinet nomination. Perdue was first tapped on Jan. 19, the day before President Donald Trump's inauguration. The one up-or-down vote the chamber is set to take will require 51 votes -- not 60.

Weekly export sales report expected to show still-solid bean sales... USDA will release its weekly update on export sales activity at 7:30 a.m. CT. Traders expect the report to show corn sales ranging from 800,000 MT to 1.3 MMT, soybean sales of 500,000 MT to 900,000 MT, wheat sales between 300,000 MT and 700,000 MT, soymeal sales ranging from 100,000 MT to 400,000 MT, and soyoil sales of 5,000 MT to 35,000 MT.

Global food prices soften in March... The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nation's (FAO) Food Price Index averaged nearly 171 points in March, which was down 5 points (2.8%) from February, but still up 20 points (13.4%) from year-ago levels. All of the commodity indices except meat fell last month, with sugar and vegetable oil prices leading the retreat. FAO's initial world cereal supply and demand outlook for 2017-18 "points to another season of relative market tranquillity, with global production declining only slightly." But with relatively weak growth in utilization, it says world cereal stocks will remain near record levels. FAO projects global wheat production will drop 20.3 MMT from year-ago to 740 MMT in 2017 due mainly to "price-induced cuts" in Australia, Canada and the United States.

Brazil's exit from recession attributed to big soy crop... Brazil's economy grew between 0.1% and 0.3% for the first quarter of 2017, with the record soybean crop credited for pulling the nation out of recession, according to economists. While Brazil's ag output accounts for just 5% of Brazil's economy, the sector may have climbed as much as 8% from the fourth to the first quarter, according to private estimates. Economists expect a broader recovery later this year, with annual growth projected at 0.5%.

CME cuts May margin for corn futures... CME Group has lowered maintenance margins for corn futures by $150 to $750 per contract for May 2017, a drop of 16.7%. The change takes effect today. CME says all initial margin rates are 110% of these levels.

Attaché: India to boost cotton exports and trim imports in 2017-18... India's 2017-18 cotton crop will likely total 28 million 480-lb. bales, which would be up 1 million bales from year-ago, according to an attaché in the country. The post expects India to export 4.5 million bales of cotton in 2017-18, up 600,000 bales from the year prior. Its imports of the fiber are projected at 1.5 million bales, down 500,000 bales from 2016-17.

LFTB lawsuit heading to trial... South Dakota's Supreme Court denied a petition from ABC to avoid trial in a defamation lawsuit regarding its reports on lean finely textured beef (LFTB), which it dubbed "pink slime." Beef Products Inc. sued the network in 2012, saying its reports misled customers into believing LFTB was unsafe, leading to plant closures and layoffs. The trial is scheduled to start in June.

Still waiting on cash trade... Cash cattle trade remains at a standstill after some light cleanup sales at lower prices in Nebraska earlier this week. Interestingly, no sales took place at the online Fed Cattle Exchange auction, signaling this week's negotiations could be tough. Lower trade is widely expected given the sharp rise in showlists and the decline in beef prices this week, but there is uncertainty as to just how much of a decline is likely.

Cash hog prices remain under pressure... Hog supplies are rising seasonally, which is keeping cash hog bids under pressure. Yesterday's average hog weight data for Iowa and Minnesota reflected a slightly uptick from week-ago. Traders will monitor whether weights continue to climb as this could be a sign that supplies are backing up on farms. Plus hog weight gain picks up amid the milder temps of spring.

Overnight demand news... Iraq has tendered to buy at least 50,000 MT of wheat. Japan purchased 65,536 MT of food-quality wheat from the U.S., as well as 29,511 MT from Canada and 25,460 MT from Australia. Jordan issued a new tender to buy 100,000 MT of feed barley from optional origins.


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