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3 Big Things Today, December 18

Beans, Grains Slightly Higher Overnight; Money Managers Raise Bets Against Corn Prices.

1. Soybeans, Corn Slightly Higher Overnight on Weaker Dollar

Soybeans and corn were slightly higher overnight amid a weaker dollar that may boost demand, though volumes were low heading into the holidays.

The value of the dollar dropped 0.3% in overnight trading, which makes U.S. products more attractive to overseas buyers. Export sales thus far have been fairly dismal for beans, corn, and wheat, but a weaker greenback can only help boost sales.

Prices have been stuck in a trading range for weeks, which is unlikely to change at least until after the first of the year, analysts said. Speculative investors are extremely short corn contracts and likely will want to square positions ahead of year-end, which may at least underpin prices for the next two weeks.  

Soybean futures for January delivery rose 2½¢ to $9.69¾ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soy meal added $1.10 to $321.70 a short ton, and soy oil gained 0.07¢ to 33.23¢ a pound.

Corn futures for March delivery rose ½¢ to $3.48 a bushel in Chicago.

Chicago wheat for March delivery added 4¼¢ to $4.22½ a bushel overnight. Kansas City futures gained 3½¢ to $4.21 a bushel.

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2. Money Managers Less Bullish Beans, More Bearish Corn Last Week

Money managers were less bullish on beans and more bearish on corn last week, according to a report from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

Speculative investors were net long by 12,455 soybean contracts in the week that ended on December 12, the CFTC said in its weekly Commitment of Traders Report. That’s down from a net-long position, or bets on higher prices, of 54,885 contracts seven days earlier.

Money managers raised their net-short position, or bets on lower prices, to 198,920 corn contracts, up from 155,061 contracts a week earlier, according to the CFTC. That’s the biggest net-short position since the week that ended on November 28.

Investors have been watching demand news and South American weather since the end of the U.S. harvest, but so far they’re bullish on neither. U.S. export sales have been weak compared with the same time frame a year earlier, and Brazil and Argentina weather, while not stellar, hasn’t been bad enough to cause a lot of concern.

Speculators also raised their net-short positions in soft red winter wheat to 165,412 contracts last week from 122,379 contracts seven days earlier, government data show. In hard red winter wheat, investors boosted their net shorts to 31,481 contracts, up from 21,428 a week earlier.

The weekly Commitment of Traders Report from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission shows trader positions in futures markets.

The report provides positions held by commercial traders, or those using futures to hedge their physical assets; noncommercial traders, or money managers (also called large speculators); and nonreportables, or small speculators.

A net-long position indicates more traders are betting on higher prices, while a net-short position means more are betting futures will decline.

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3. Snow Makes Return to North Dakota After Mild December; Fog Advisories Abound

Snow is expected in much of the North Dakota today as winter makes a return to the state.

Snowfall won’t be heavy but it will be widespread, falling in much of western and central North Dakota, the National Weather Service said in a report on Monday.

There’s a greater chance for more snow – up to 4 inches – starting Tuesday night, the NWS said. Much colder conditions are expected in the area through Christmas.

A dense fog advisory is in effect for several areas of the country this morning, including a pocket of southwestern Iowa from the Nebraska border east to Des Moines and south to the Missouri border, according to the NWS.

Fog is also an issue for pretty much the eastern two thirds of Texas, all of Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama, weather maps show.

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