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3 Big Things Today, April 24, 2020

Soybeans, Grains Mixed Overnight; Weekly Export Sales of Beans, Wheat Rise.

1. Soybeans and Grains Mixed in Overnight Trading

Soybeans and grains were mixed in overnight trading amid uncertainty about demand.

ADM said Thursday it would halt production at two ethanol plants – one in Iowa and one in Nebraska – with a combined capacity of 575 million gallons as demand wanes due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The company said employees would be furloughed for four months or until conditions change. Ethanol production fell to a record-low average of 563,000 metric tons in the seven days that ended on April 17, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Meatpacking plants also are closing as hundreds of employees have tested positive for the virus. The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union said more than 5,000 workers in the meatpacking industry have been infected or exposed to COVID-19 and 13 have died, according to Reuters.

Smithfield Foods last week closed its Sioux Falls facility, which handles about 5% of all pork production in the U.S., amid an outbreak of the virus. Tyson Foods idled its pork plant in Waterloo that accounts for almost 4% of total processing.

Several other plants have closed or are facing scrutiny as the coronavirus spreads to workers.

Still, there’s some demand hope as China purchased 198,000 metric tons of soybeans from U.S. supplies, the Department of Agriculture said earlier this week.

Russia reportedly halted wheat exports in a bid to boost domestic supplies, and low water levels in Argentina are forcing exporters to lighten loads.

Buyers of agricultural products may have to turn to the U.S. for supplies if alternate countries are unable to meet their needs.

Soybean futures rose ¼¢ to $8.47 a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade, while soymeal gained $1 to $294.10 a short ton, and soy oil fell 0.03¢ to 26.01¢ a pound. 

Corn futures for May delivery lost 1¢ to $3.25 a bushel overnight.

Wheat futures for May delivery fell ¾¢ to $5.44 a bushel, and Kansas City futures dropped 6¼¢ to $4.87 a bushel.

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2. Weekly Export Sales of Beans and Wheat Rise While Corn Sales Fall

Export sales of soybeans and wheat rose week-to-week while corn sales declined, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Soybean sales to overseas buyers in the week that ended on April 16 were reported at 344,900 metric tons, up 41% from the previous week but down 48% from the prior four-week average, the USDA said in a report.

Spain was the big buyer at 63,900 metric tons, followed by Bangladesh at 55,800 tons, Indonesia at 55,500 tons, and an unknown buyer at 25,100 tons. Only 500 metric tons of sales were reported for the 2020-2021 marketing year that starts on Sept. 1.

Wheat export sales also rose, gaining 37% to 244,700 metric tons, though that was down 22% from the prior four-week average.

The Philippines led buyers at 64,900 metric tons, Vietnam purchased 30,000 tons, and Mexico took 28,100 tons. Italy was in for 26,400 tons and Thailand purchased 25,000 tons, the USDA said.

For the 2020-2021 marketing year that starts on June 1, sales totaled 155,200 metric tons as Thailand bought 55,000 tons, Japan took 53,700 tons, an unnamed country purchased 26,500 tons, Mexico was in for 11,200 tons, and Chile bought 8,000 tons.

Corn sales for 2019-2020 fell 20% week-to-week to 726,700 metric tons, which was down 49% from the average, the agency said.

Mexico was the big buyer at 221,100 metric tons, Colombia purchased 123,500 tons, Taiwan took 88,000 tons, Vietnam was in for 86,300 tons, and the Philippines bought 60,000 tons. The total would have been higher, but an unnamed customer canceled a cargo of 82,300 tons.

For 2020-2021, net sales declined as unknown countries canceled shipments for 10,000 tons, the USDA said in its report.  

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3. Thunderstorms Forecast in Parts of Northern Oklahoma May Bring Hail and Strong Winds

Storms are expected in parts of the southern Plains today, with some becoming severe, according to the National Weather Service.

In northern Oklahoma, baseball-size hail is forecast along with “damaging” winds, the NWS said in a report this morning.

There’s also a possibility of a tornado early this evening in parts of eastern and southeastern Oklahoma, the agency said.

A wind advisory has been issued for parts of the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles this morning. Winds are expected to be sustained at about 35 mph with gusts of up to 50 mph expected.

Farther east, there’s a chance for thunderstorms tonight mostly across southeastern Missouri and southwestern Illinois, the NWS said. Some strong storms are possible and could include large hail and damaging winds.

An isolated tornado is possible mostly over western or southern Arkansas, the agency said.

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