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3 Big Things Today, March 18, 2020

Soybeans, Grains Mixed Overnight; Crazy Week in Cattle as Prices Plunge, Jump.

1. Soybeans, Grains Mixed Overnight Amid Market Uncertainty

Soybeans and grains were mixed in overnight trading as the market looks for direction in uncertain times.

Bean futures were higher overnight on optimism about a potentially $1 trillion fiscal package planned by the Trump administration designed to give the economy. Details so far are sketchy, but one idea floated was to send every American a check.

The package also includes assistance for industries hit by the spread of COVID-19 including airlines and small businesses. Tax payments also may be deferred under the plan.

Still, corn prices were lower as the disease continues to spread and cities and states shut restaurants and bars. More travel restrictions also have been put in place globally.

The number of cases is quickly approaching 200,000 globally, while the number of dead now stands at 7,979, according to Johns Hopkins University. That’s up from 183,198 cases and 7,165 dead a day earlier.

Still, almost 82,000 people have recovered from the disease, the university said.

Soybean futures for May delivery gained 6¾¢ to $8.31 a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soy meal rose $4.90 to $303.20 a short ton, and soy oil lost 0.03¢ to 25.21¢ a pound.

Corn futures fell 5¾¢ to $3.38¼ a bushel overnight.

Wheat futures for May delivery lost 1½¢ to $4.97¾ a bushel, while Kansas City futures gained 2¢ to $4.34¼ a bushel.

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READ MORE: Corn adds to 38 cent monthly loss Wednesday

2. Crazy Early Week For Cattle as Prices Hit Lowest in a Decade Then Rebound on Panic Buying

It’s been a crazy week for cattle futures – and it’s only Wednesday – as prices dropped due to demand uncertainty over COVID-19 then rallied amid a run on grocery stores for beef.

On Monday, cattle futures dropped to their lowest level in almost 10 years, while hog futures fell to the lowest since October 2018.

The disease’s effect on meat demand is, like most other things, so far uncertain. Concerns about how much beef and pork consumers will eat heading into the summer months pressured prices through Monday.

Then Tuesday came and it was a different story.

Prices surged amid a run on grocery stores by people who are worried they’ll be left without enough food should the coronavirus pandemic worsen.

Despite assurances from federal, state, and local government officials that there are no food shortages, consumers who’d been buying up toilet paper and hand sanitizers also raided the meat section of their local supermarkets.

Mandatory closures of restaurants and bars in several states also concerned consumers.

Cash cattle prices were up as much as $3 a pound week to week and were at a $13 to $18 premium over the futures market as of yesterday, according to INTL FCStone, Reuters reported.

Live cattle contracts went limit up yesterday, while feeder cattle jumped. Lean hogs also increased.

Colin Woodall, the chief executive of the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, told Lane Nordlund of Nordlund Communications that futures are “divorced” from true supply at this point, according to the Wisconsin State Farmer.

Still, production needs to remain strong to ensure a steady supply of beef to consumers, he said.

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3. Blizzard and Winter Storm Warnings Issued for Eastern Wyoming and Western Nebraska

Blizzard warnings and winter storm warnings are in effect for parts of eastern Wyoming and much of western Nebraska this morning as a powerful storm bears down on the area, according to the National Weather Service.

The storm is expected to hit the region starting tonight and lasting through Friday.

As much as 8 inches of snow are expected in the Nebraska panhandle along with a glaze of ice, the NWS said in a report this morning. Wind gusts of up to 50 mph are expected.   

In the areas where there’s a winter weather advisory, surrounding the counties in the blizzard warning, mixed precipitation is expected, the agency said.

“Areas of blowing snow could significantly reduce visibility,” the NWS said. “Conditions will be hazardous to livestock and newborn calves.”

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