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3 Big Things Today, March 3, 2022

Wheat Again Rises Overnight; Ethanol Output Falls to Three-Week Low.

1. Wheat Futures Again Surge in Overnight Trading

Wheat futures again surged overnight as Russian attacks on Ukraine intensify, leaving scores dead and more than a million civilians fleeing.

Fighting was reportedly fierce, but Kherson, a port city in southern Ukraine, fell to the Russians.

Troops continue to move toward the Ukraine capital of Kyiv, though a large convoy remains stalled, said John Kirby, a spokesman for the Pentagon.

More than 200 civilians have been killed in the escalating conflict thus far, according to the United Nations. A million people have fled Ukraine to escape the bombing and fighting, the UN said.

Western countries continue to impose sanctions on Russian products and banks. Government officials in Moscow said the sanctions are having an impact on the Russian economy.

The value of Russia’s currency, the ruble, has fallen to a record low and is almost worthless. Russian stock exchanges remain closed as prices plunge and interest rates have more than doubled.

Russian assets globally have been frozen, and oligarchs aligned with President Vladimir Putin have seen their property seized.

With ports closed along the Black Sea and Russian products a pariah, little wheat is expected to flow from the countries in the near future. Russia is the world’s largest exporter of the grain and Ukraine ranks third.

Wheat for May delivery jumped 55½¢ to $11.14½ a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade, while Kansas City futures were up 30¾¢ to $11.06 a bushel.

Corn futures for May delivery fell ¾¢ to $7.24¼ a bushel. 

Soybean futures for May delivery rose 6¢ to $16.69 a bushel. Soymeal was up $2.80 to $450.80 a short ton, and soybean oil futures fell 0.08¢ to 75.79¢ a pound.

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2. Ethanol Production Drops to Three-Week Low

Ethanol output plunged to the lowest level in three weeks and stockpiles declined in the seven days that ended on February 25, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Production of the biofuel fell to an average of 997,000 barrels a day, the EIA said in a report.

That’s down from 1.024 million barrels the previous week and the lowest since the week that ended on February 4.

In the Midwest, by far the biggest producing region, output averaged 941,000 barrels a day last week, down from 966,000 barrels the previous week and also the lowest in three weeks, the government said.

Rocky Mountain production fell to 13,000 barrels a day, on average, from 14,000 barrels the previous week.

That was the entirety of the declines.

East Coast output was unchanged at 12,000 barrels a day – where it’s been for four straight weeks – and Gulf Coast production stayed at an average of 22,000 barrels a day, the agency said.

West Coast production rose to 10,000 barrels a day, on average, from 9,000 barrels a week earlier.

Ethanol stockpiles, meanwhile, rose to 24.933 million barrels in the seven days through February 25, the government said.

That’s down from 25.507 million barrels the previous week and the lowest level since February 4, the EIA said in its report.

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3. Red-Flag Warnings Issued in Much of Southern Plains

Red-flag warnings have been issued for counties in eastern Colorado, southwestern Kansas, and the Oklahoma and Texas panhandles, according to the National Weather Service.

Extremely dry weather is forecast in the area with winds sustained from 15 to 20 mph and gusts up to 25 mph today, the NWS said in a report early this morning.

Winds will kick up tomorrow, with gusts increasing in speed to 40 mph.

Relative humidity today is forecast as low as 6%, but will increase tomorrow to a low of about 16%, the agency said.

Farther north, near-critical fire weather is forecast for parts of western and central Nebraska starting tomorrow and lasting into the weekend.

Relative humidity is expected to drop as low as 15% in the area, though winds will remain light, the NWS said.

Starting Friday night, however, a mix of rain and snow will fall. As much as 4 inches of snow accumulation are possible in the Nebraska panhandle by the end of Saturday, and up to 0.10 inch of ice is expected, the agency said.

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