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3 Big Things Today, February 1

Soybeans, Grains Higher Overnight; USDA Begins Playing Catch-Up on Reports

1. Soybeans Surge Overnight on Positive Trade Talks

Soybeans jumped overnight after Chinese state-run news agencies said trade talks the past two days with the U.S. went well, and on reports that the Asian nation agreed to buy more American agricultural products.

Xinhua, China’s official state news agency, said Friday that “important progress” was made during the negotiations. Beijing said it will expand imports of U.S. ag products, service and industrial products, the news agency report.

President Donald Trump said late Thursday that he plans to meet with President Xi Jinping later this month in Beijing to seal a deal that would end the tit-for-tat tariff battle between the world’s two largest economies.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said the talks moved the conversation forward.

Negotiators have until March 1 to come to an agreement or tariffs on more than $200 billion worth of Chinese goods would rise to 25% from their current level of 10%, Trump said. China would likely retaliate with trade barriers of its own.

Soybeans for March delivery rose 8¼¢ to $9.23½ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soymeal gained $3.10 to $313.10 a short ton, and soy oil fell 0.10¢ to 30.07¢ a pound.

Corn added 1½¢ to $3.78 a bushel overnight

Wheat for March delivery were up 2¾¢ to $5.19¼ a bushel while Kansas City futures gained 2½¢ to $5.01½ a bushel.


2. USDA Begins Playing Catch-Up, Releases Export Sales Report From Week Through Dec. 20

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has started the long and arduous task of getting caught up on its weekly export sales report, releasing data from the week that ended on Dec. 20 and setting a schedule for when each report will finally come out.

The partial government shutdown that lasted 35 days – by far the longest on record – kept government agencies from operating at their full capacity. The USDA was no exception as everything from the monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report in January to the daily and weekly export sales reports were put on hold.

Export sales for the week that ended on Dec. 20 were reported yesterday, showing corn sales of 1.7 million metric tons, which was down 14% from the previous week but up 28% from the prior four-week average.

Soybean sales that week totaled 2.39 million metric tons, which was down 16% week-to-week but up 92% from the average. China jumped back into the market and bought 1.47 million metric tons of the total. That would indicate Beijing made good on its promise to buy more American agricultural products.

Wheat sales in the seven days through Dec. 20 totaled 526,300 metric tons, which was up 68% from the prior week but down 2% from the four-week average, the USDA said.  

The report for the seven days through Dec. 27 will be published on Feb. 7, the report for Jan. 3 will be on Feb. 14 and a combined report for the weeks ending Jan. 10 through Feb. 14 will be published on Feb. 22, according to the agency.

Regular reporting will resume in the week that ends on Feb. 22, barring another government shutdown.


3. Temperatures Expected to Rise Through Weekend, Some Winter Weather Sticking Around

Break out the board shorts and tank tops, it’s going to be a balmy 19 in parts of eastern Iowa and northern Illinois this afternoon.

Temperatures in much of the upper Midwest finally moved higher as the polar vortex  moved out of the region after two days of extreme cold. Wind chills during the weather event reached as low as minus-60 degrees in some areas, according to the National Weather Service.

The weather is expected to moderate through Monday, with temperatures expected to reach a high of almost 50 degrees in northern Illinois to start next week.

There’s still some winter weather aimed at the Corn Belt. Fog and freezing drizzle are expected in parts of northern Illinois, east-central Iowa and northeastern Missouri late Saturday night, though with temperatures warming that will turn to drizzle or light rain, the agency said.

Further east, portions of central Indiana and central Ohio likely will see snow accumulations of up to 6 inches as winter weather hits the region. A winter weather advisory remains in effect until 10 a.m. Road conditions are expected to be slippery, the NWS said.

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