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Corn firm, watching harvest activity

Soybeans were mixed on spread adjustments, with most of the nearby contracts claiming modest gains late in the session. The exception was the November contract. More mixed signals this week about the proposed trade deal with China and while Beijing did buy 129,000 tons of 2019/20 U.S. beans Thursday morning, confirming some of the recent chatter, that is a routine amount. Some rumors have had China buying as many as seven cargoes of U.S. soybeans this week, but also continuing to purchase beans from Brazil. AgroConsult says the resolution of U.S./Chinese trade tensions would probably mean a modest bump in demand for U.S. beans if African swine fever continues to spread. The U.S. harvest remains slower than normal and crop conditions in South America generally look good. Soybean meal was lower and bean oil was higher on the unwinding of product spreads. The National Oilseed Processors Association’s member crush numbers for October are out Friday.

Corn was modestly higher on commercial and technical buying. Corn continues to watch slow harvest activity with about a third of the crop still in the fields. Near-term forecasts look mostly clear, but propane for dry down is in short supply in some areas. It’s been a long, hard year for many producers, with the historically slow planting pace, widely variable conditions during development, and widespread harvest delays. Corn and other commodities continue to wait for the passage of the USMCA. Ethanol futures were higher. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says ethanol production last week averaged 1.030 million barrels a day, up 16,000 on the week, while stocks were down 889,000 barrels to 20.985 million, the tightest supply in more than two years. The USDA will likely lower the corn for ethanol use projection in the next supply and demand update, out December 10th. Corn is also watching planting and development conditions in Argentina and Brazil.

The wheat complex was modestly lower on fund and technical selling. Winter wheat emergence is a little slower than normal and the USDA’s condition rating did decline over the past week. Parts of the southern Plains are dry, while some areas have experienced bitterly cold temperatures with little or no snow cover. The USDA is projecting a record world supply, limiting the upside, and while export demand has been good, it hasn’t been outstanding, with the U.S. continuing to face a lot of competition. The USDA’s weekly export sales report is out Friday morning. Weather issues in some countries have been canceled out by larger than expected crops in other exporting nations. Strategie Grains has soft wheat exports by European Union nations outside of the E.U. at 28.8 million tons, compared to the last guess of 27.3 million. Egypt is tendering for wheat and DTN says Ukraine is the lowest bidder.

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