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3 Big Things Today, February 15

Soybeans Rise Overnight; USDA Releases January 3 Export Sales Ahead of Data Dump Next Week.

1. Soybeans Higher Overnight on Trade Optimism

Soybeans were higher in overnight trading Friday on optimism that the U.S. and China will be able to come to a trade agreement as another round of talks ends.

Chinese officials cited progress during the negotiations this week, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called the talks “productive” in a tweet.

Still, no deal was signed with only two weeks to go until a March 1 deadline. It’s still unclear whether the U.S. will delay raising its tariff rate on more than $200 billion worth of Chinese goods, as planned, at the start of next month.

President Donald Trump said this week he would consider delaying implementation of the rate increases, but would prefer not to.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lightizer and Mnuchin are scheduled to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping today, and an Agriculture Department official said the presidents will meet next month. Trump has said he wants to be the one to finalize a trade deal with China.

Soybeans for March delivery rose 4½¢ to $9.08 a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soy meal added $1.50 to $307 a short ton, and soy oil declined 0.03¢ to 29.86¢ a pound.

Corn gained 1¢ to $3.75¾ a bushel overnight.

Wheat futures for March delivery lost ½¢ to $5.06½ a bushel, while Kansas City futures declined ¼¢ to $4.81¼ a bushel.

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2. USDA Reports January 3 Export Sales Ahead of Data Through Mid-February

The USDA will release one large report covering the weeks from January 10 through Februay 14 next Friday as it finally catches up from the 35-day government shutdown.

In the meantime, the government released the weekly Export Sales Report for the week that ended on January 3, and it showed a net reduction in soybeans – more cancellations than new orders – and a decline in corn sales.

Soybeans suffered a net-reduction in sales of 612,000 metric tons, the biggest decline in the marketing year, the USDA said.

First, the good news: Mexico bought 146,100 metric tons of U.S. soybeans, the Netherlands was in for 81,900 tons, Pakistan purchased 72,600 tons, South Korea was in for 60,900 tons, and Germany took 56,600 tons.

China, however, canceled shipments totaling 807,000 metric tons, and an unknown customer nixed cargoes worth 444,000 metric tons, resulting in the net negative for the week, the USDA said.

Corn sales were lower week to week at the start of the year, falling 9% to 459,800 metric tons, which was also a 64% decline from the four-week average, the government said.

Mexico was the big buyer at 175,200 metric tons, Saudi Arabia bought 95,000 tons, Taiwan was in form 73,400 tons, Japan took 39,500 tons, and an unknown buyer purchased 33,500 tons.

Wheat sales fell to a marketing-year low of 131,200 metric tons, down 78% from the previous week and 76% from the previous four-week average.

Mexico was again the biggest buyer at 33,100 tons, the Philippines bought 28,900 tons, Taiwan was in for 19,500 tons, an unknown customer took 17,000 tons, and Nigeria purchased 11,300 tons, the USDA said.

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3. Large Chunk of Central U.S. Facing Winter Weather Advisories Friday Morning

Winter weather advisories have been issued for a giant chunk of land that stretches from northeastern Washington southeast through western South Dakota into southern Illinois and Indiana, according to the National Weather Service.

In central Nebraska, snow accumulations are expected at about 4 inches today with visibility dropping to about ½ mile at times, the NWS said in a report early Friday morning. Roads are expected to be slippery.

In parts of eastern Kansas and almost all of Missouri, about 2 to 4 inches of snow are forecast with up to 5 inches locally, the agency said. Snowfall rates are pegged at about an inch an hour between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., which will result in quick accumulations on roadways.

“Plan on slippery road conditions and greatly reduced visibilities,” the NWS said. “Hazardous travel conditions are expected to impact the lunchtime and evening commutes.”

North Dakota and parts of South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa are facing extremely cold wind chills today. Northwestern counties in North Dakota will see the lowest temperatures as the wind chill is forecast as low as -50˚F.

In northern Iowa, meanwhile, wind chills will be from -20˚F. to -30˚F., the agency said.

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