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3 Big Things Today, March 23

Soybeans Lower in Overnight Trading; Ethanol Output, Stocks Down Slightly Week-Over-Week

1. Soybeans Lower Overnight as Rain in Brazil Improves Prospects

Soybeans were lower in overnight trading as rainfall in parts of South America boosts crop prospects.

Mato Grosso and Goias states in Brazil are expected to see regular showers and thunderstorms in the next several days, forecasters said. While that may slow fieldwork, it will improve soil moisture for the second-season corn crop.

Growers in Brazil are expected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to produce a record 108 million metric tons of soybeans this year. That's up from an outlook for 104 million tons just a month earlier. 

Soybean futures fell 4 ¼ cents to $9.95 ½ a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soymeal lost 90 cents to $322.60 a short ton and soy oil declined 0.23 cent to 33.29 cents a pound.

Corn futures fell ¾ cent to $3.58 a bushel on the CBOT.

Wheat futures for May delivery rose ¼ cent to $4.22 ½ a bushel in Chicago, and Kansas City wheat was unchanged at $4.32 ½ a bushel.

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2. Ethanol Production, Stockpiles Fall Weekly, Still at Lofty Levels

Ethanol production in the week that ended on March 17 fell modestly, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Output totaled 1.044 million barrels a day, on average, down from 1.045 million a week earlier, the EIA said in a report. Though it’s down week-over-week, output is up from the prior four-week average.

Ethanol production has backed off from the record high of 1.055 million barrels a week set in early February but are still at historically lofty levels.

Stockpiles of the biofuel also declined, falling to 22.6 million barrels from 22.8 million a week earlier, according to the EIA. As with production, the weekly decline belies the fact that inventories are at high levels historically.

Still, the week-over-week drop in production and large amounts of stockpiles isn’t good news for corn growers in the Midwest who rely on ethanol plants to buy more than a third of their crop each year.

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3. Storm Forecasts Iffy on Southern Plains Rain Set to Start Thursday

Storms are expected to bring rain and lightning to much of southwestern Kansas and the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles starting today, but the outlook is somewhat fuzzy.

The National Weather Service, on one map, shows storms are expected from 4 p.m. this afternoon until 1 a.m. tomorrow morning. Along with thunderstorms, hail and strong winds are expected.

Interestingly, much of the region is in a red flag warning – when wildfires spark easily due to overly dry conditions – high wind watches or fire-weather watches.

The NWS said thunderstorms are possible but the threat of severe weather is low, so rain will likely miss most counties in the region.

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