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3 Big Things Today, February 24

Wheat Futures Lower Overnight on IGC Data; USDA Forecasts Jump in Bean Acres.

1. Wheat Futures Fall Overnight on Grains Council Data

Wheat futures were lower in overnight trading after the International Grains Council raised its outlook for inventories at the end of the marketing year.

The London-based IGC said in a report yesterday that it expects global inventories of wheat to total 236 million metric tons, up from 235 million a year earlier. Production was pegged at 752 million tons, unchanged from the year earlier, but trade rose by 1 million tons, accounting for the decline in stockpiles.

Corn production was raised in the IGC’s report by 4 million tons to 1.049 billion tons. Consumption, however, was increased to 1.035 billion tons, well above last month’s forecast of 1.028 billion, leading to a projected decline in stockpiles to 224 million tons, down from 225 million in January.

Soybean production globally was forecast at 336 million tons, up from 334 million last month, according to the IGC. Consumption, however, was raised to 334 million tons from 333 million, leaving carryout unchanged at 35 million tons, the agency said.

Wheat futures for May delivery fell 1¾¢ to $4.51¾ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Kansas City futures lost 2½¢ to $4.69 a bushel.

Corn futures for March delivery were up ¾¢ to $3.66¼ a bushel.

Soybean futures for May delivery gained 3¢ to $10.25½ a bushel overnight in Chicago. Soy meal futures rose 70¢ to $335.90 a short ton, and soy oil added 0.22¢ to 32.81¢ a pound.

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2. USDA Forecasts Rise in Soybean Acres, Decline in Corn, Wheat

U.S. growers will increase soybean acreage at the expense of corn and wheat this year, according to projections from the Department of Agriculture.

The area planted with soybeans will rise by 4.6 million acres to a record 88 million, the USDA said at its annual Agricultural Outlook Forum in Crystal City, Virginia, on Thursday.

Corn area will drop by 4 million acres to 90 million, while area seeded with wheat also will drop by 4 million acres to 46 million, the smallest amount in more than a century, according to the USDA.

Prior to the report, analysts had pegged soybean seeding at 88 million acres, corn planting at 91 million acres, and wheat area at 47 million acres.

The rise in soybeans and the drop in corn come as the price ratio between the crops remains wider than normal. Soybeans are trading at 2.8 times corn this morning, according to the CME Group.

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3. Winter Storm Slams Parts of Iowa, Minnesota; Schools, Roads Closed in Some Areas

A storm stretching from western Wyoming into the Upper Peninsula of Michigan is leaving closed schools and treacherous travel conditions in its wake.

The heaviest snow is mostly falling in northern Iowa and southern Minnesota today where a blizzard warning is in effect for the region until midnight, according to the National Weather Service. As much as 9 inches have already fallen in some counties and another 8 inches are expected in areas, the NWS said.

“Storm total snowfall within the heaviest snow band may exceed a foot,” the NWS said.

Strong winds also will be a problem, with gusts up to 45 mph tonight, causing blowing and drifting snow resulting in whiteouts in some counties, the agency said.

In eastern Nebraska, up to 3 inches of snow are expected to fall this morning, and temperatures are well below freezing, making for slick roads in some areas. Another 2 to 4 inches are expected in eastern Nebraska and western Iowa tonight, forecasters said.

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