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3 Big Things Today, February 15

Soybeans, Grains Little Changed Overnight; Ethanol Production Drops to One-Month Low.

1. Soybeans, Grains Little Changed as Investors Weigh Weather, Demand

Soybeans and grains were little changed as investors weigh dry weather in Argentina and the Southern Plains against relatively weak demand for U.S. supplies.

Showers in Argentina will be light and limited to southern and western edges of the corn- and soybean-growing areas, Commodity Weather Group said in a report.

In the Southern Plains, rainfall likely will be below average through at least March 1, the forecaster said. Little or no rain has fallen in the past 90 days in much of southwestern Kansas and the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles.

Still, demand for U.S. supplies is well below the year-ago despite low prices for corn, beans, and wheat. Sales of wheat are down 11% from the same time a year earlier, while corn is off by 17%, and beans are down by 13%, according to the USDA.

The USDA will release its Weekly Sales Rreport this morning.  

Soybean futures for March delivery rose a penny to $10.18¼ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soymeal futures fell 60¢ to $369.30 a short ton, and soy oil rose 0.08¢ to 31.88¢ a pound.

March corn rose ¼¢ to $3.67½ a bushel in Chicago.

Wheat for March delivery fell ¼¢ to $4.55½ a bushel overnight. Kansas City futures rose 1½¢ to $4.71¼ a bushel.

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2. Ethanol Production Drops to Lowest Level in More Than a Month, Stockpiles Fall

Ethanol production dropped to the lowest level in more than a month, and stockpiles dropped to a four-week low, the Energy Information Administration said in a report.

Output of the biofuel declined to 1.016 million barrels a day, on average, in the seven days that ended on February 9, the EIA said. That’s the lowest level of production since the week that ended on January 5.

Stockpiles in the U.S., meanwhile, dropped to 22.885 million barrels last week, the lowest since January 12, according to the government.

The USDA said last week it would use 5.525 billion bushels of corn to make ethanol in the 2017-2018 marketing year that ends on August 31. That’s unchanged from a prior-month outlook but up from last year’s 5.439 billion.  

In other news, the Weekly Export Sales Report is due out at 8:30 a.m. in Washington. Analysts are expecting corn sales of 1 million to 1.5 million metric tons, soybean sales of 450,000 to 750,000 tons and wheat sales from 200,000 to 400,000 tons, according to Allendale.  

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3. Fog Plagues Travelers in the Midwest, Dry Weather Continues in Southern Plains

A dense fog advisory is in effect for almost all of Illinois this morning, as visibility is reduced to less than a quarter of a mile in some spots, according to the National Weather Service.

The advisory is in effect until 10 a.m., and travel is not advised at this time, the NWS said.

It’s still dry in the Southern Plains, and strong winds and low humidity combined with warm weather are raising the risk of wildfires.

Wind gusts are pegged from 15 to 25 mph, while relative humidity is expected to be around 20% on Thursday, making for tinderbox-like conditions.

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