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3 Big Things Today, December 18

Soybeans Modestly Higher Overnight; Corn, Wheat, Bean Inspections Rise Week to Week.

1. Soybeans Slightly Higher Overnight on China Optimism

Soybeans were modestly higher in overnight trading on continued optimism that China will buy more from U.S. inventories.

As part of a temporary trade deal, China agreed to resume purchases of U.S. agricultural products including soybeans in exchange for the U.S. keeping its tariff rate at 10% through March 1. If a permanent trade deal isn’t hammered out by then, the tariff rate will rise to 25%, the White House has said.

China last week bought more than 1.4 million metric tons of soybeans from the U.S., the first purchase in six months, the USDA said. Inspections of soybeans for overseas delivery were higher week to week, according to the government.

Investors are hoping to see more purchases from China, though some are skeptical that a trade deal can be worked out in the next 10 weeks.

Soybeans for January delivery rose 2¾¢ to $9.07½ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soy meal added 50¢ to $309.60 a short ton, and soy oil gained 0.22¢ to 28.39¢ a pound. 

Corn futures for December delivery was unchanged at $3.84 a bushel.

Wheat for March delivery fell 3¢ to $5.32¼ a bushel overnight, and Kansas City futures declined 3½¢ to $5.18½ a bushel.

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2. Corn, Bean, Wheat Export Inspections All Higher Week to Week

Inspections of corn, soybeans, and wheat for delivery overseas all rose week to week, according to the USDA.

Corn assessments in the seven days through December 13 totaled 885,060 metric tons, up from 876,305 tons a week earlier, the USDA said in a report. That’s also higher than the same week a year earlier when inspections totaled 636,851 tons.

Soybean inspections rose to 974,876 metric tons from 926,600 tons during the previous week, according to the government. Still, the total is about half the 1.8 million tons inspected last year. Import tariffs imposed by China have curbed sales to the Asian nation, which was once the biggest buyer of U.S. supplies.

Inspections of wheat reached 682,162 metric tons last week, the USDA said. That’s up from 449,002 the prior week and the 625,138 tons assessed a year earlier.

Corn assessments since the start of the marketing year on September 1 have been much strong year over year, rising to almost 16 million metric tons. At this point last year, they totaled 9.24 million tons, the government said.

Soybeans inspections, meanwhile, have plunged on an annual basis. The USDA has examined 15.2 million tons of U.S. inventories for overseas shipment, down from 25.9 million tons during the same period last year.

Wheat inspections since the start of the grain’s marketing year on June 1 are up to 11.7 million tons, which is below the 13.8 million tons assessed during the same time frame in 2017, the agency said.

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3. Western Kansas at Risk of Wildfires Amid Strong Winds, Dry Weather This Week

Parts of western Kansas are at risk of wildfires amid strong winds and dry conditions, according to the National Weather Service.

Fire risks are low today, but sustained winds of 40 mph with gusts of up to 50 mph along with low humidity increases the chances of wildfires Wednesday and Thursday, the NWS said in a report early Tuesday morning.

Farther east, a dense fog advisory is in effect for much of eastern Texas, southern Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi today.

The NWS office in Shreveport said visibility will be less than ¼ mile as calm winds, clear skies, and low-level moisture creates a shroud of thick fog. Travelers are urged to exercise caution until visibility improves.

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