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3 Big Things Today, February 14

Crop Futures Little Changed, Weekly Ethanol Production Rebounds, Stockpiles Decline.

1. Crop Futures Again Little Changed on Trade News Wait

Soybeans and grains remained little changed overnight as market-watchers continue to wait for any news out of Beijing on the U.S.-China trade talks.

Officials have been tight-lipped as the two-day talks have progressed.

President Donald Trump said yesterday that the talks are going “very well.” Stephen Censky, the undersecretary for the USDA, reportedly said at a renewable fuels conference that Trump will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping next month.

It’s unclear at this point whether the U.S. will raise its tariff rate on more then $200 billion worth of Chinese good on March 1 – the deadline for negotiations to be completed – but Trump said he may be willing to extend the deadline.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin met with Chinese officials including Vice Premier Liu He for another round of trade talks in Beijing this week.

Soybeans for March delivery fell ½¢ to $9.16 a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soy meal fell 40¢ to $309.70 a short ton, and soy oil gained 0.09¢ to 30.43¢ a pound.

Corn dropped ¾¢ to $3.78 a bushel overnight.

Wheat futures for March delivery lost 3½¢ to $5.18¾ a bushel, while Kansas City futures declined 1½¢ to $4.92½ a bushel.

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2. Ethanol Production Jumps in Week Through February 8, Stockpiles Declines to Four-Week Low

Ethanol production jumped in the seven days that ended on February 8, while stockpiles declined, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Output of the biofuel rose to an average of 1.029 million barrels a day, up from 967,000 barrels the previous week and the highest since January 18, the EIA said in a report.

Plants in the Midwest, by far the biggest-producing region, jumped to 959,000 barrels a day, on average, from 893,000 the prior week. Gulf Coast output was steady at 14,000 barrels.

All other regions declined as East Coast production fell to 24,000 barrels a day from 26,000, Rocky Mountain output fell to 13,000 barrels from 14,000, and West Coast production dropped to an average of 19,000 barrels a day from 20,000, the EIA said.

Stockpiles, meanwhile, declined to the lowest level in almost a month.

Inventories of the biofuel were reported at 23.466 million barrels last week, down from 23.947 million seven days earlier, and the lowest level since January 11, according to the government.

Ethanol-maker Green Plains earlier this week said revenue in its fiscal fourth quarter came in at $827.5 million, down from $921 million during the same period a year earlier, missing projections by analysts. Earnings, however, beat expectations at $1.13 a share.

Todd Becker, the chief executive officer of the company, said in its earnings release that he’s confident the new E15 rule will be put in place ahead of summer.

“We remain confident that E15 will be implemented by the administration for the upcoming summer driving season, and exports could get a boost from the U.S. and China resolving the trade issue between the two countries,” Becker said. “The ethanol industry needs demand growth, and both of these initiatives could reduce inventories allowing for a return to a better margin structure for the industry over the next several months.”

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3. Winter Weather Advisory in Effect in Nebraska, Kansas as Another 4 Inches of Snow Expected

A winter weather advisory is in effect for about the eastern halves of Nebraska and Kansas and a good chunk of northwestern Missouri, according to the National Weather Service.

The area, which has seen extremely cold temperatures and rounds of winter weather, is expected to get another 2 to 4 inches of snow, the NWS said in a report early this morning.

Roads are expected to be slippery and travel may be dangerous.

Farther north, a similar advisory is in effect for eastern North Dakota and western Minnesota. Another inch of snow is forecast in the area along with wind gusts as high as 40 mph, the NWS said.

Wind chills also will be dangerous, falling as low as -35˚F.

“Areas of blowing snow could reduce visibility,” the agency said. “The dangerously cold wind chills could cause frostbite on exposed skin in as little as 10 minutes.”

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