Soybeans Rally After Chinese Officials Confirm Deal On Track
Soybeans for January delivery rose 0.7% to $8.84 1/4 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade on Thursday, as Chinese officials confirmed that negotiations for a partial trade deal with the U.S. are continuing. Corn for March delivery edged 0.5% lower to $3.76 3/4 a bushel. Wheat for March delivery fell 0.7% to $5.23 3/4 a bushel.
The trade negotiating teams on both sides have maintained close communication, China's Commerce Ministry said, though it didn't provide details on progress. That, plus the USDA's confirmation of 245,000 metric tons of soybeans being sold to unknown destinations--usually China--supported soybean futures. Traders will also monitor soybean sales to see if China is still a buyer, Karl Setzer of AgriVisor said.
Wheat Export Sales Lower Than Expected -- Market Talk
08:57 ET - Export sales of wheat through Nov. 28 fell below the low end of already dampened trader targets, totaling only 228,100 metric tons in the Thanksgiving holiday week. This is down 45% from the prior 4-week average, and below the lowest estimate of analysts polled by the Wall Street Journal, who anticipated tonnages ranging from 250,000 tons to 700,000 tons. For a grains market hungry for any indication of world markets growing in their interest in US agriculture, this weeks' report did nothing to spark any hope. Sales of corn and soybeans fell in the low end of analyst estimates, making it a weak week for US agriculture. (email@example.com; @kirkmaltais)
Food Prices Hit Two-Year High on Meat, Vegetable-Oil Shortfalls -- Market Talk
1051 GMT - Food prices have surged to their highest level in more than two years, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization says, as the disease afflicting China's pig herd continues to drive up meat and fish imports. Meat prices rose 4.6% in November from October, the biggest one-month advance in more than 10 years, reflecting "strong import demand, especially from China." Demand for meat in meals at Christmas and Thanksgiving has exacerbated the global meat shortfall, the FAO adds. Vegetable-oil prices rose even more quickly--jumping 10% from October--as consumers sought to lock in supplies ahead of possible shortages in 2020. Overall food prices rose 2.7% in November from October, and were 9.5% higher than a year earlier. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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Kroger's Overhaul Crimps Profit Again -- Update
Kroger Co.'s investments in store renovations and technology hurt profit again in its latest quarter, when the grocer tempered its overhaul plans to boost future sales.
The Cincinnati-based chain on Thursday posted its fifth consecutive profit decline for the quarter, a 17% decrease over that period last year to $263 million. Kroger said profit at pharmacies in its grocery stores fell due to pressure from the spread of lower-margin generic drugs across the industry. The company also said it expects to write down by $238 million the value of the Lucky's Market natural grocer that it invested in three years ago.
USDA to Embark on Seven Trade Missions in 2020 -- Market Talk
1055 ET - Representatives for the USDA will engage in seven agribusiness trade missions in 2020, in an effort to reach out to areas of the world that could increase their consumption of US agriculture, the agency's Foreign Agriculture Service says. The missions will be led by Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs Ted McKinney, and will travel to North Africa in March, the Philippines in April, Spain and Portugal in June, the UK in September, Australia and New Zealand in October, Peru in November, and the UAE in December. It's the most trade missions the USDA has led in one year, says McKinney -- with four of the stops being first-time destinations for USDA outreach. (email@example.com; @kirkmaltais)
Retailers Watching Changes To Federal Food Aid Policy -- Market Talk
11:20 ET - Analysts are trying to game out what the Trump administration's move to tighten requirements for federal food aid will mean for grocers and retailers that sell food. Kroger executives say they are evaluating what changes to the program could mean for business, describing it as a potential risk. Dollar General, whose core customer earns a lower income, doesn't believe the changes will have a material effect on its business next year. "We continue to see a long-term trend of reduced benefits over time," a Dollar General executive says. The administration plans to curb the ability of states to shield adults who don't have dependents from work requirements for assistance, WSJ reports. That could make hundreds of thousands of people ineligible for food aid. (firstname.lastname@example.org; @MicahMaidenberg)
Cattle Turn Higher Despite Weak Export Report -- Market Talk
15:21 ET - Cattle futures on the CME finished 0.4% higher at $1.246 per pound, putting an end to a recent losing streak for the February contract. However, more selling may be on the way, as recent drops in beef cutout prices suggest that packers may want to bid the cattle contract lower to compensate. "Packers are going to try to buy cattle cheaper as beef product prices have fallen out of bed this week," says Jeff French of Top Third Ag Marketing. Meanwhile, lean hog futures finished 1.2% lower at 67.575 cents per pound, with traders reacting negatively to the USDA export sales report, which showed that China had cancelled 8,500 metric tons of pork already purchased for 2020 delivery. (email@example.com; @kirkmaltais)