First Thing Today: Arctic Blast Sets Records

Posted on 12/29/2017 5:58 AM

Good morning!

Softer tone for grains as year comes to a close, soybeans mixed… Corn futures faced light pressure overnight and the market is around a penny lower as of 6:30 a.m. CT. Soybean futures are split with nearbys fractionally to a penny higher and far deferred months posting similar losses. Wheat futures are steady to a penny lower amid light trading volume. The U.S. dollar index is again under pressure, while crude oil futures are posting modest gains. Grain, oilseed and livestock markets will observe normal trading hours today.

Export sales expectations for the week ending Dec. 21…





600,000 to 1,100,000

0 to 50,000


250,000 to 550,000



800,000 to 1,500,000



100,000 to 300,000



5,000 to 25,000



Arctic blast sets records… Cold weather records were set Thursday from Arkansas to Maine, and meteorologists expect the cold air will linger through the weekend and into next week, reaching as far south as Texas and the Florida Panhandle. Forecasters say the nation’s average low will be 10 degrees when 2018 begins Monday, with a third of the country seeing averages below zero. The cold blast has raised concerns about winterkill in areas of Kansas and Colorado where snowcover is lacking. Cattle producers are also dealing with stressful conditions and the blast has made hog producers reluctant to market animals.

Trump lashes out at China for breaking U.N. sanctions against North Korea… President Donald Trump lashed out at China on Thursday following reports that Chinese ships transferred oil to North Korean vessels at sea in violation of United Nations sanctions over the North’s nuclear weapons program. Trump said on Twitter that China had been “Caught RED HANDED,” adding he was “very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea.” On Tuesday, the South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo cited unidentified South Korean government officials as saying U.S. reconnaissance satellites have spotted Chinese ships transferring oil to North Korean vessels some 30 times since October in seas off China. That report was picked up by some U.S. media outlets. Meanwhile, South Korea seized a Hong-Kong flagged ship for selling oil to North Korea. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters, "The Chinese side has conducted immediate investigation. In reality, the ship in question has, since August, not docked at a Chinese port and there is no record of it entering or leaving a Chinese port."

Logistics problems to limit Ukraine’s grain exports… Ukraine will likely export 41 MMT of grain in 2017-18, according to the country’s acting ag minister, Maksym Martyniuk. This is down 1 MMT from the ministry’s previous peg due to “growing problems with logistics and a shortage of wagons and locomotives,” Martyniuk detailed. Last year, Ukraine exported 44 MMT of grain, including 17.4 MMT of wheat. As of Dec. 21, Ukraine has shipped 19.5 MMT of grain, including 11 MMT of wheat.

Senate Democrats urge railroad accountability for PTC... A group of 15 U.S. senators sent a letter to U.S. Department of Transportation leadership asking the agency to hold the nation’s railroads accountable for expeditiously implementing the proper levels of operations safety on their tracks. The senators want a status report of railroads’ implementation of positive train control (PTC) technology across their networks. Congress mandated the implementation of PTC for the nation’s railroads by the end of 2018, just one year away. Get more details.

Jones will be sworn in next week… Alabama certified Democrat Jones the winner of a special Senate election after a failed legal challenge by Republican Moore. He will be the first Democratic senator to represent Alabama in 25 years. Jones is expected to be sworn in on Jan. 3.

Unprecedented turnover rate at the White House… The turnover rate among senior White House officials reached 34% this year, a level unprecedented in the modern era, and twice that of Reagan’s 17% in 1981 — the next-highest in the past 40 years.

Cotton AWP climbs over 70 cents per pound. The Adjusted World Price (AWP) for cotton rose to 70.44 cents per pound, effective today, the first time it has been at 70.00 cents or more since the price effective for the week of May 19, when it was 72.44 cents per pound.

Census Bureau projects 0.71% annual boost in U.S. population at start of 2018… U.S. Census Bureau projects the U.S. population will be 326,971,407 on Jan. 1, 2018. This represents an increase of 2,314,238, or 0.71%, from New Year’s Day 2017. Since Census Day (April 1) 2010, the population has grown by 18,225,587, or 5.90%. In January 2018, the United States is expected to experience one birth every 8 seconds and one death every 10 seconds. Meanwhile, net international migration is expected to add one person to the U.S. population every 29 seconds. The combination of births, deaths and net international migration will increase the U.S. population by one person every 18 seconds. The projected world population on Jan. 1, 2018, is 7,444,443,881, an increase of 78,521,283, or 1.07%, from New Year’s Day 2017. During January 2018, 4.3 births and 1.8 deaths are expected worldwide every second.

Cash negotiations extend late in the week… So far, the only cash cattle action to speak of has been some light action in the dressed market in Iowa around $192 and an unconfirmed report of trade at $123, which would be up a few bucks from week-ago levels. Traders clearly expect higher cash trade thanks to cold temps sweeping the nation’s midsection. But with December live cattle trading roughly $4.60 above last week’s average cash prices, some profit-taking is a possibility, especially with the contract set to expire at noon CT.

Cash hog prices raises again amid cold temps… Lean hog futures ended Thursday on a strong note thanks to ongoing improvement in cash hog bids as packers are working to push through as many hogs as possible to make up for holiday downtime and cold weather is forcing packers to raise bids. Cash prices strengthened 61 cents on a national basis yesterday, according to USDA.

Overnight demand news… There is no business to report.

Today's reports:


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