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3 Big Things Today, March 21

Corn, Beans Touch Higher Overnight; Weekly Ethanol Production Falls, Stockpiles Rise to Record.

1. Crop Futures a Touch Higher in Overnight Trading

Corn and soybeans were barely higher in overnight trading Thursday amid guarded optimism about a U.S.-China trade deal.

President Donald Trump yesterday sent a mixed message by saying talks were “coming along nicely” but followed that by saying the U.S. wouldn’t end tariffs on Chinese goods for a “substantial period” of time to ensure the Asian nation abides by a trade deal.

Once again, traders were left wondering which message was correct after the prior day when news reports conflicted about whether a deal was almost finished or China was walking back some of the concessions it made on the administration’s inability to commit to ending tariffs.

Traders, producers, and analysts have been on edge in recent weeks as the talks drag on.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said on Bloomberg Television earlier this week that an agreement will be signed “hopefully soon.”

Corn futures for May delivery rose 1¼¢ to $3.72¾ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade.

Soybeans for May delivery gained 1¢ to $9.07 a bushel in Chicago. Soy meal was unchanged at $311.60 a short ton, and soy oil added 0.13¢ to 29.40¢ a pound.

Wheat for May delivery fell ¾¢ to $4.64 a bushel, while Kansas City futures added ½¢ to $4.44½ a bushel.


2. Ethanol Production Falls to Lowest in a Month, Stockpiles Jump to Record, EIA Says

Ethanol production fell to the lowest level in a month in the seven days that ended on March 15 while stockpiles surged to a record, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Output last week averaged 1.004 million barrels a day, down from 1.005 million the previous week and the lowest amount since the seven days that ended on February 15, the EIA said in a report.

Midwestern production, by far the largest in the country, declined by 1,000 barrels to an average of 935,000 barrels a day. That’s the lowest average since the week that ended on February 1, government data show.

East Coast output declined to 25,000 barrels a day, on average, from 26,000 barrels; Gulf Coast production dropped to 13,000 barrels a day from 14,000; and Rocky Mountain output fell to 12,000 barrels from 14,000, the EIA said.

West Coast producers saw the only regional gains for the week as production jumped to an average of 19,000 barrels a day from 15,000 barrels last week.

Stockpiles, meanwhile, jumped to the highest on record.

Inventories in the week through March 15 totaled 24.412 million barrels, the EIA said. That’s up from 23,731 million the previous week.


3. Rivers Receding, Falling Back to Flood Stage in Next Week After Waters Cover Entire Towns

Rivers are nearing their crests or receding in parts of Nebraska and Iowa after flooding that left dozens of towns under water.

The Missouri River near Blair, Nebraska, was at 29.4 feet as of late last night, 2.9 feet above flood stage, according to the National Weather Service. The river at that location is expected to fall below flood stage by Saturday morning.

At Nebraska City, the river was at 25 feet, or 7 feet above flood stage. The river will continue to fall to a stage of 24.4 feet by Friday morning and likely will continue to drop, the NWS said in a report early Thursday morning.

The Mississippi River near Cape Girardeau, Missouri, meanwhile, will crest near 40.5 feet, but not for another week, the agency said. In fact, it won’t fall to below flood stage until a week from today on March 28, the NWS said.

“Moderate flooding continues along the Mississippi River at Cape Girardeau, Thebes, and New Madrid,” the agency said. “At New Madrid, water levels will fall slowly, with the river falling below flood stage Thursday, March 28.”

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