Here in Chicago, most of the grain complex retreated as some traders took gains off the recent uptick in prices. In addition, traders are still eyeing weather reports and anticipate some relief from the frigid conditions sweeping the nation.
That said, spring wheat prices saw higher gains as demand for high-quality wheat continues to rally.
Today’s commodity trading session was overshadowed by big gains in New York City. The Dow Jones Industrial Average passed 25,000 for the first time. Positive economic data from around the globe continues to push stocks higher, while the U.S. dollar continues to weaken.
Here’s our daily recap from the Chicago Board of Trade.
Spring Wheat Prices Pop in Minneapolis
Wheat prices dipped in Chicago and Kansas City, but that didn’t stop gains in Minneapolis. Spring wheat prices for March at the MGEX added 8 cents to close the day just under $6.28 per bushel. The May contract added 5.75 cents and finished just under $6.33 per bushel.
At CBOT and KCBT, prices slipped. March SRW contracts fell 2 cents and ended at $4.34 per bushel. March HRW contracts shed 2 cents to close at $4.39. Investors took some gains off the table at both exchanges ahead of tomorrow’s export figures. It’s anyone’s guess as to how the U.S. exports are looking ahead of tomorrow. Trade expectations are set between 8.3 million and 18.4 million bushels.
Corn Prices Falter
Ahead of tomorrow’s trade data report, corn prices dipped. March 2018 and May 2018 contracts both fell 2 cents on the day. The front-month contract ended the day at $3.51. The May contract closed the day a tick above $3.59.
Not much news to report here in the U.S. on the corn trade. Ethanol production did slide a little last week, but with output still near record highs, we don’t anticipate too much of a shakeup in the biofuel sector from a demand side. The key concern is that prices have been falling, making it harder to breakeven over the last few months.
Tomorrow morning, we’ll dive deeper into the export numbers for the week ending Dec. 28. There’s a bit range in trade expectations – 23.6 million to 39.4 million bushels.
Ahead of this week’s 2018 corn outlook, we have to factor in how many acres farmers plan to shift from corn to soybeans.
Soybean Prices Bring South America in Focus
Back to the weather in South America. Sorry to bring it up so much, but that is where the traders’ attention lies these days. Though we’re hearing that La Nina will start to weaken in the spring months,  there’s no denying the impact of dryness across Brazil and Argentina.
Soybean planting is going now at its slowest pace in history, according to Pablo Pochettino of Intagro in Buenos Aires. AgroEducacion has said that the mild La Nina system is pushing regional temperatures above normal. The lack of rain isn’t helping. Planting is now just 72% of the 44.7 million acres that were estimated. 
Tomorrow, the soybean exports are expected to come in between 22.0 million and 36.7 million bushels for the week ending Dec. 28. This is the last report on soybean exports before the new delivery rules for China kick in.
The $14 billion-per-year business of sending soybeans to China will now face new hurdles to reduce foreign material requirements. It’s going to be a steep challenge, as half of the shipments sent to China in 2017 would have failed the requirement of having a percentage of foreign materials below 1%. 
2018 Grain Market Outlooks
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