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3 Big Things Today, July 17

Corn, Wheat Lower Overnight; U.S.-China Trade Talks Just Got More Difficult.

1. Corn, Wheat Lower as Crops Stay Strong – For Now

Corn and wheat were lower in overnight trading despite a heat wave that’s moved into the Midwest as conditions of the crops, for now at least, remain strong.

Fifty-eight percent of the U.S. corn crop was in good or excellent condition as of Sunday, which is up from the 57% that earned top ratings a week before, according to the USDA.

About 76% of the spring wheat crop, meanwhile, was in good or excellent condition. While that’s a lofty number, it’s still down from 78% the previous week and 80% at this time last year. Some 78% of the crop was headed, behind the prior five-year average of 87%, the USDA said.

Still, a heat wave is moving into the Midwest, which could hurt the condition of plants. Heat indexes will be well above 110˚F. in some areas, according to the National Weather Service.

Corn futures for December delivery fell 2¾¢ to $4.38½ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade.

Wheat for September delivery declined 4½¢ to $5.03 a bushel, while Kansas City futures lost 5¾¢ to $4.40½ a bushel.

Soybean futures for November delivery fell ½¢ to $9.05½ a bushel overnight. Soy meal dropped 20¢ to $314.60 a short ton, and soybean oil rose 0.14¢ to 28.60¢ a pound.

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2. Trade Talks With China Kick Off, Now More Difficult With Addition of Hard-Liner

A trade deal with China became more difficult, as China added Commerce Minister Zhong Shan to its negotiating team.

Zhong is considered a hard-liner by the U.S., meaning he will be more difficult to convince to give in to demands made by Washington. Already he’s made his presence known, saying that his country “should uphold our warrior spirit.”

He said in an interview with the People’s Daily, the official state newspaper, that the “U.S. side has provoked economic and trade frictions against (China) and violated the principles of the WTO” and that the U.S. is guilty of “unilateralism and protectionism.”

The U.S. has imposed tariffs on about $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, while China has put levies on about $60 billion worth of U.S. goods.

Late Tuesday, the World Trade Organization said some U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods don’t comply with international trade rules. That means Beijing can put sanctions on Washington, for what it’s worth.

Naturally the Trump administration wasn’t happy with the WTO’s 2-1 decision.

The U.S. Trade Representative said in a statement that the ruling “undermines WTO rules, making them less effective to counteract Chinese SOE subsidies that are harming U.S. workers and businesses and distorting markets worldwide.”

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3. Heat Wave Now Encompasses Two Thirds of U.S., Likely to Hurt Late-Planted Crops

A “dangerous” heat wave is now affecting two thirds of the U.S., according to the National Weather System.

Excessive heat warnings are in effect from northern Nebraska, south to southern Oklahoma, and east into western Indiana. Heat watches are now in place for pretty much all of Indiana, Kentucky, and Ohio.

Farther south, a heat advisory is in effect for the rest of eastern Oklahoma, southern Missouri, all of Arkansas, and parts of east Texas and northern Louisiana.

In northern Missouri, temperatures are expected to be in the high 90s to around 100˚F. today, while heat index values are expected to hit 110˚F., the NWS said in a report early this morning.

Anybody spending any time outside faces dangerous conditions from the heat, the agency said.

In eastern Oklahoma, maximum heat index values are seen at around 114˚F. due to high temperatures and humidity.

The heat wave likely will negatively affect crops that have a shallow root system after being planted so late, agronomist Emerson Nafziger said.  

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