First Thing Today: Weekend Rains Expected for the Plains, Neighboring Areas

Posted on 08/04/2017 6:36 AM

Good morning!

Traders favoring the upside as they ready for the weekend... Corn futures favored the upside overnight and as of 6:30 a.m. CT most contracts are trading midrange and up 2 cents. Soybean futures are trading high-range and mixed with an upside bias. Wheat futures are fractionally to 3 cents higher, with the HRW market leading gains. The U.S. dollar index and crude oil futures are both posting slight losses.

Weekend rains expected for the Plains, neighboring areas... A cold front brought rain to Minnesota, eastern Iowa and the northern areas of the eastern Corn Belt yesterday, but the rains were quite light to nonexistent for the driest areas of Iowa and across the western Belt. Heavy rains are possible over the weekend for the Northern and Central Plains, and showers may stretch into western Missouri and Iowa over the weekend. Cool conditions with occasional showers are expected across the Corn Belt through at least Thursday. Whether drier areas of the Corn Belt receive rains will be key, since warmer conditions are likely later this month, according to World Weather Inc.

July jobs data out this morning... The employment report for July comes out at 7:30 a.m. CT. Its expected to show that the U.S. labor market is moving steadily with 180,000 jobs added and the unemployment rate falling to 4.3% from 4.4%. The data will be watched for any clues on wage growth in the months ahead. The numbers may set the tone for the trading session after weak car sales data spurred bullish Treasury bets earlier this week.

Senate joins House for August recess... The Senate left town for its shortened August recess after the chamber on Thursday cleared a Food and Drug Administration bill and confirmed 69 nominations for various departments after Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced a pre-recess package he negotiated with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). "The Senate has confirmed more executive branch nominees this week than all of the executive branch nominees confirmed this year combined," McConnell noted. When Congress returns in September, lawmakers will face looming deadlines on the debt limit and funding the government for the upcoming fiscal year. Meanwhile, the Senate Budget Committee could mark up a fiscal 2018 budget resolution in September to help set up a GOP tax overhaul. Get more details.

No trade policy announcement on China today... A speech that President Donald Trump was scheduled to give on Chinese trade today has reportedly been canceled. Trump had been planning to announce the start of an investigation into China's violation of U.S. intellectual property rights and forced technology transfers. However, the Commerce Department announced on Thursday a new anti-dumping and countervailing duty case into imports of certain cast-iron soil pipe fittings from China. The petitioner, the Illinois-based Cast Iron Soil Pipe Institute, is seeking dumping margins of about 92% on imports of the product, which were valued at an estimated $8.6 million last year. The International Trade Commission will make preliminary injury determinations around Aug. 28.

Commerce nominee urges enforcing China over trade issues... The U.S. should vigorously enforce its trade laws and be willing to punish trading partners who engage in unfair practices that undercut American companies in domestic or export sales, Commerce Department nominee Gilbert Kaplan told the Senate Finance Committee on Thursday. Asked about Chinese limits on market access for American financial services companies, Kaplan said the Chinese fear competition. "I think you are sort of suggesting, maybe we should consider putting caps on some of their services and investments in the United States,'' Kaplan said. "I think that is well worth looking into. I think we have to turn up some of the pressure if we want to solve the problems with China in services and other areas." Kaplan also indicated he thinks U.S. trade remedy laws allow the Commerce Department to treat currency manipulation as an illegal export subsidy.

Frost likely removed Paraguay from global list of high protein wheat suppliers... Frost clipped Paraguay's wheat crop last month, further shrinking global supplies of high protein wheat. As much as half of the country's 430,000 hectares (1.063 million acres) sown this year may have been lost, according to Jose Berea, president of Capeco, Paraguay's chamber of exporters. This should leave the country with just enough wheat to cover domestic demand and could mean the country will need to bring in wheat to improve quality, according to Berea. Most of Paraguay's wheat exports go to Brazil, but the country had been hoping to expand its reach this season.

Lumber mills warn against forcing a deal to avoid NAFTA spat... U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has said he wants to finish a softwood lumber agreement with Canada before talks on renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement begin on Aug. 16. But the owners of four lumber mills told Reuters they are "in no hurry" to reach a deal with Canada that does not limit Canadian producers' share of the U.S. market to a strict percentage. They explained they do not want to settle for a "bad deal" just to avoid a fight in NAFTA. U.S. mill owners want a "clean quota," with strict market share limits for Canada. They say Canada unfairly subsidizes its lumber producers through low fees for timber cut on public land. U.S. producers get most of their timber from private land where costs are higher.

More cash cattle trade at better prices... Some additional cattle moved in the Iowa/Minnesota, Colorado and Nebraska markets at $118 yesterday, with Kansas seeing some action between $117 to $118. This was steady to higher relative to trade earlier in the week and last week. This could lift futures today, though live cattle have narrowed their discount to the cash market. Also encouraging, Select boxed beef prices have strengthened slightly over the past week, while Choice cuts are down just over $1.

Pork movement slows and cash prices drop... Pork movement slowed dramatically on Thursday, despite a 25-cent drop in the pork cutout value. But bellies did take a break from their steep slide, climbing $1.51. The cash hog market also softened yesterday, including a steep, $3-plus drop in the Iowa/Minnesota market. Also of note, this week's kill is running 15,000 head ahead of week-ago and 109,000 head in advance of year-ago levels through Thursday.

Overnight demand news... India purchased around 300,000 MT of wheat from Ukraine in recent weeks.

Today's reports:

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