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3 Big Things Today, December 21

Soybeans, Grains Little Changed Overnight; Ethanol Production Falls Second Straight Week.

1. Soybeans, Grains Little Changed on Light Volume Ahead of Christmas

Soybeans and grains were little changed on light volume with just two sessions to go before the Christmas holiday weekend.

The holiday trade is in effect, as it has been all week, with investors squaring positions before the end of the year being the main catalyst for market movement, analysts said.

“There was not much new news to trade on, so expect the markets to drift,” said Cory Brantland, an analyst at Kluis Commodities, in a morning note to clients. “The funds are liquidating positions for year end, and outside money flow is staying with stocks.”

That, in turn, will keep prices in a tight range until at least the end of the year.

Soybean futures for January delivery fell 1½¢ to $9.52½ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soy meal added 60¢ to $316.30 a short ton, and soy oil fell 0.23¢ to 32.90¢ a pound.

Corn futures for March delivery rose ¼¢ to $3.49½ a bushel in Chicago.

Chicago wheat for March delivery rose a penny to $4.24½ a bushel overnight. Kansas City futures gained ¼¢ to $4.22¾ a bushel.

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2. Ethanol Production Falls Second Straight Week, Still at Lofty Levels

Ethanol production fell for a second straight week but is still relatively high, according to the Energy Information Administration.

An EIA report showed output in the seven days that ended on December 15 at 1.077 million barrels a day, on average, down from 1.089 million a week earlier. Production in the week that ended on December 1 totaled 1.108 million barrels a day, a record high.

This week’s total registers as the third-highest production on record, behind only the previous two weeks, EIA data show.

The lofty ethanol production numbers led the USDA to raise its estimate for the amount of corn that would be used to make the biofuel.

About 5.525 billion bushels of the grain will be used to make ethanol in the 2017-2018 marketing year, up from a prior projection of 5.475 billion bushels, according to the USDA.

Ethanol inventories last week also declined for a second straight week, though by only a small amount. Stockpiles on December 15 totaled 22.320 million barrels, down from 22.374 million a week earlier, the EIA said.

In other news, the USDA’s weekly Export Sales Report is due this morning. Analysts pegged corn sales from 800,000 to 1.1 million tons, soybean sales from 1.3 million to 1.8 million tons, and wheat sales from 300,000 to 600,000 tons, Allendale said.

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3. Winter Weather Advisories Issued For Western, Eastern Thirds of Nebraska

A winter weather advisory is in effect for much of western and eastern Nebraska (but not central Nebraska), according to National Weather Service maps.

In eastern counties in the state and a few areas in western Iowa, freezing rain is expected, which will result in extremely slippery conditions, the NWS said. A light glaze is expected to coat surfaces by tonight.

Light freezing drizzle will change to snow later this afternoon in Nebraska, while in western Iowa, drizzle will turn to freezing drizzle early this afternoon, the agency said.

In western Nebraska and eastern Wyoming, snowfall is expected for much of the afternoon. As much as 4 inches of snow are expected east of Interstate 25 in Wyoming through the western third of Nebraska.

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