3 Big Things Today, April 22, 2020
1. Corn Futures Rise Overnight on China Waiver Report
Corn futures were higher in overnight trading on speculation that China is considering relaxing import tariffs on the grain to boost supplies.
The Asian nation earlier this year issued waivers for about 2 million metric tons of corn in a bid to increase inventories.
The new waivers would be on top of those already issued, Bloomberg Law reported, citing people familiar with the matter. Any purchases by China would go toward meeting quotas under the Phase One trade deal it signed with the U.S. in January.
Still, prices are being capped by concerns about demand for feed as meatpacking plants nationwide shut in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Smithfield Foods last week closed its plant in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, amid an outbreak of the virus. The facility is one of the largest in the nation and represents 4% to 5% of all pork production in the U.S., the company said in a statement.
Several cases of the virus have been reported in Nebraska packing plants, and facilities in Texas are reportedly under state investigation.
Corn futures for May delivery rose 1½¢ to $3.18¾ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade.
Soybean futures added 3½¢ to $8.44¼ a bushel overnight, while soy meal gained $1.10 to $295.60 a short ton, and soy oil rose 0.08¢ to 25.84¢ a pound.
Wheat futures for May delivery fell 4¼¢ to $5.42 a bushel overnight, and Kansas City futures dropped 6¼¢ to $4.97¾ a bushel.**
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2. Meatpacking Plants in Texas Reportedly Face Investigation Into COVID-19 Outbreaks
Two more meatpacking plants are facing scrutiny – this time by the state of Texas – amid outbreaks of COVID-19.
A JBS packing plant in the panhandle and a Tyson Foods facility in Center, Texas, are under investigation, the Texas Tribune reported, citing the Department of State Health Services.
Tyson Foods said in a Facebook post that its processing plant in Center, Texas, about 190 miles southeast of Dallas, was closing until April 28 as part of a construction project. The post made no mention of a coronavirus outbreak.
Shelby County, where the town of Center, Texas, is located, now has 69 cases of COVID-19 among its 25,000 residents, the Department of State Health Services said. No deaths have been reported in the county.
Texas, as a whole, has more than 20,000 cases statewide and 517 deaths.
Separately, the U.S. Senate approved another $484 billion in new aid to help boost the economy that reportedly includes another infusion into a small-business program that had run out of money in its first two weeks and funds for hospitals and testing.
The House of Representatives was expected to vote on the deal Thursday, and President Donald Trump is expected to sign off on it shortly thereafter.
3. Severe Thunderstorm Warning Issued in Parts of Eastern Oklahoma
Severe thunderstorms are expected in parts of northern Oklahoma today, according to the National Weather Service.
A severe thunderstorm warning is in effect for several counties near the Kansas border in north-central Oklahoma, the NWS said in a report early this morning. At about 5:40 a.m. local time, the storms were moving east at 40 mph.
Quarter-size hail has been reported, and vehicle damage is likely. The warning will end at about 6:45 a.m. CDT, the agency said.
In much of southern Ohio and counties in eastern Indiana, meanwhile, a freeze warning is in effect as temperatures dropped to around 27˚F. overnight. The warning expires at 10 a.m. local time.