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3 Big Things Today, April 18

Wheat Futures Decline Overnight; Ethanol Production Rises to Six-Week High, Stockpiles Fall.

1. Wheat Declines Overnight on Favorable Conditions

Wheat futures declined overnight as more precipitation is in the forecast for the Southern Plains where the bulk of hard red winter wheat is grown in the U.S.

Low temperatures will keep heat stress down from newly growing plants that recently emerged from the ground, while a round of thunderstorms is likely starting Sunday, according to the National Weather Service.

Some 60% of the U.S. winter wheat crop was in good or excellent condition as of Sunday, up from 31% at the same time last year, according to the USDA. In Kansas, the biggest grower, 59% earned top ratings while in Oklahoma, 74% was good or excellent, the USDA said.

Corn and beans, meanwhile, were again little changed in overnight trading as investors and hedgers continue to wait for news from the U.S.-China trade negotiations.

Wheat futures for May delivery fell 3¼¢ to $4.47 a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade, while Kansas City wheat declined 2½¢ to $4.23¾ a bushel.

Corn futures for May delivery were up ¼¢ to $3.58½ a bushel overnight.

Soybeans for May delivery gained 1¾¢ to $8.80¾ a bushel. Soy meal rose 60¢ to $304.50 a short ton, and soy oil added 0.03¢ to 28.49¢ a pound.

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2. Ethanol Production Last Week Hits Highest in Six Weeks, Stockpiles Plunge

Ethanol production last week rose to the highest level in six weeks, while stockpiles dropped to the lowest since September, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Output of the biofuel increased to 1.016 million barrels a day, on average, in the seven days that ended on April 12, the EIA said in a report. That’s the highest since the week that ended on March 1.

In the Midwest, by far the largest producer of ethanol, production rose to an average of 945,000 barrels a day from 931,000.

Also rising was output in the Gulf Coast, which saw an increase of 2,000 to an average of 15,000 barrels a day. West Coast production increased by 1,000 to 20,000 barrels a day, the agency said.

Rocky Mountain producers made 14,000 barrels a day, unchanged from the previous week, while East Coast production fell by 1,000 to an average of 23,000 barrels a day.

Stockpiles, meanwhile, decline to 22.676 million barrels in the week through April 12. That’s down from 23.193 million the previous week and the lowest level since the seven days that ended on September 21, according to the EIA.

In other news, the USDA will release its Export Sales Report this morning.

Analysts are expecting corn sales from 500,000 to 950,000 metric tons, soybean sales from 350,000 to 850,000 tons, and wheat sales from 350,000 to 700,000 metric tons, according to data from researcher Allendale.

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3. Storms Hitting Parts of Several States Including Arkansas, Missouri, Illinois

A set of strong storms expected to last for days is hammering most of Arkansas, parts of southeastern Missouri, southern Illinois, and western Indiana, according to the National Weather Service.

The storm, which is also hitting Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Kentucky, is expected to be a “multi-day weather event” that’s capable of tornadoes, strong winds, and rain.

A flash flood warning is in effect for several counties in Arkansas this morning including the cities of Little Rock, Conway, and Arkadelphia, the NWS said in a report early this morning. As of 5:31 a.m. local time, as much as 2 inches of rain had already fallen, prompting the flash flood warning.

Several roads already were flooded with more rain on the way.

Farther north along the Missouri-Illinois border, flood warnings are already in effect as the Mississippi River remains over its banks in several place. This new storm may bring scattered thunderstorms this morning.

“Widespread showers with embedded thunderstorms will accompany a cold front as it slowly moves southeast across the region from late morning through mid-evening,” the NWS said. “Heavy rainfall will be the primary concern, and that may lead to flooding of low-lying and poor-drainage areas.”

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