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3 Big Things Today, December 21, 2021

Soybeans Modestly Lower Overnight; Weekly Export Inspections of Corn Improve.

1. Soybeans Narrowly Lower in Overnight Trading

Soybean futures were slightly lower on concerns about the spread of the omicron variant of the coronavirus, which may reduce global demand for U.S. supplies.

Corn was little changed and wheat was mixed.

The variant accounted for more than 70% of new coronavirus cases in the U.S. last week, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It’s now the dominant strain in the U.S.

Some countries are again increasing restrictions on gatherings amid other lockdown measures to slow the spread of the easily transmissible strain.

Despite the lower prices, investors also are keeping an eye on dry South American weather.

Crop stress is expected to build in the southern third of Brazil and most of Paraguay with soybean and corn losses expected to broaden, according to a report from Commodity Weather Group.

"Patchy showers in southern Brazil the next three days and far southeastern (Brazil) next weekend unlikely to substantially reduce moisture stress," the forecaster said.

Things are looking better in Argentina as only 10% of soybeans and corn are facing stress from the dry weather, CWG said. Some rain is expected this week but it will then be mostly dry the next two weeks.

Wheat futures were mixed as the weather outlook varies. Some rain is expected in the Southern Plains where hard-red winter varieties are growing, which should offer some relief for dry conditions in the area, CWG said.

Rain is in the six- to 15-day forecast for parts of the southern Midwest and Delta regions where soft-red winter wheat is grown, the forecaster said.

Still, drought conditions have been widening in the Southern Plains. In Kansas, the biggest U.S. wheat grower, 20.1% of the crop was suffering from drought conditions last week, up from 19.4% a week earlier, the U.S. Drought Monitor said.

That’s also up from 6.38% three months ago, the monitor said.

Soybean futures for March delivery fell 2¾¢ to $12.92 a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soymeal was down 60¢ to $382.70 a short ton, while soy oil rose 0.39¢ to 53.4¢ a pound.

Corn futures for March delivery were up 1¢ to $5.92 a bushel.

Wheat futures for March delivery fell 1¢ to $7.76¾ a bushel, while Kansas City futures gained 3¢ to $8.16¼ a bushel.

2. Weekly Corn Export Inspections Increase

Inspections of corn for overseas delivery rose week-to-week while bean and wheat assessments declined, according to the USDA.

Corn assessments rose to 1 million metric tons in the seven days that ended on Dec. 16, the agency said in a report.

That’s up from 917,100 metric tons the previous week and well above the 770,122 tons assessed during the same week a year earlier.

Soybean inspections last week totaled 1.68 million metric tons, down from 1.75 million a week earlier, the USDA said. That’s down from 2.86 million tons examined for offshore delivery in the same week last year.

Wheat assessments came in at 211,880 metric tons, down from 268,840 tons the previous week and 392,178 tons at the same point in 2020, the agency said.

Since the start of the marketing year on Sept. 1, the government has inspected 11.3 million metric tons of corn for export.

That’s down from 12.9 million tons assessed during the same time frame a year earlier.

Soybean inspections since the beginning of September are now at 27.2 million metric tons, behind the 35.2 million tons examined during the same period last year.

Wheat examinations since the start of the grain’s marketing year on June 1 now stand at 11.6 million metric tons, down from 14.1 million a year earlier, the USDA said in its report.

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3. Winter Weather Advisories Issued For Northern Midwest

Winter weather advisories are in effect in several counties in northern Minnesota and northern Wisconsin, according to the National Weather Service.

Up to 2 inches of snow is expected in northern Minnesota this morning, the NWS said in a report. The advisory is in effect until noon today.

In northern Wisconsin, snow will spread across the area today before tapering off this afternoon, the agency said.

From 2 to 4 inches of snow are expected with the highest totals near Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Winds will range from 10 to 20 mph, reducing visibility to as little as 1 mile, the NWS said.

In the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles, meanwhile, dry weather may spark wildfires this week.

“Elevated fire weather conditions are expected Thursday across parts of the Oklahoma and Texas Panhandles,” the NWS said. “Critical fire weather conditions are anticipated Friday across most of the area, with elevated to critical fire weather conditions again possible Christmas Day through Monday across much of the area.”

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