Report release times examined

Jun 1, 2012

Recent changes in Chicago Mercantile Exchange’s (CME) market hours has USDA looking at modifying release times on several big agricultural market reports.

USDA Chief Economist Joseph W. Glauber announced last week that USDA is reviewing release times for several major statistical reports due to recent changes in market hours by major commodity exchanges.

Reports under review include: World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates, Acreage, Cattle, Cattle on Feed, Crop Production, Grain Stocks, Prospective Plantings, Quarterly Hogs and Pigs, and Small Grain Summary.

“It is important that USDA continue to ensure the integrity of its report release process, particularly as global exchanges move closer to 24-hour trading,” said Glauber. “To this end, USDA is reviewing our procedures and will solicit public input to determine the needs of those who use our data.”

The National Agricultural Statistics Service and the World Agricultural Outlook Board—the USDA entities responsible for the reports—will seek public comment on the release times and procedures of their key statistical reports. Until a review is completed, the current USDA release times of 8:30 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. ET will remain in effect.

“This is a complicated issue,” Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack told a telephone newsconference, adding the department wanted to assure equitable release of information for all market participants.

USDA is considering moving all reports to an afternoon release, or releasing them on weekends, eliminating releases during live trading. While some traders would prefer USDA release th big reports while the markets are closed, others prefer to be a part of the surges in trading that accompany a “live” release.

“We’re in the process of analyzing the pros and cons of a variety of different ways to approach this,” Vilsack said.

“And I think whatever decision is ultimately made, we will structure it in such a way that I’m sure we will provide people an opportunity in some manner to provide their reaction to what it is we’re doing or considering.”

USDA switched to early morning release in 1994 to give U.S. markets first trading options on the data.

Despite requests from agriculture groups, CME Group recently launched a 21-hour trading day following the start of InterContinental Exchange’s (ICE) 22-hour trade day for grains and soybean futures on May 14.

In a recent letter to the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), requested a 30-day public comment period before grain traders are allowed 22-hour-per-day electronic trading of grain and oilseed futures contracts. The National Grain & Feed Association and the North American Export Grain Association. also requested a comment period, asking CFTC to request the exchanges to delay the change in hours for “consideration with stakeholders.”

“As currently formulated, both ICE’s plans for new contracts with greatly expanded trading hours and the CME Group’s plans to expand hours raise serious issues that potentially place the Nation’s corn growers at a marketing disadvantage,” wrote National Corn Growers Association President Garry Niemeyer.

Vilsack said the recent change in the trading hours were a factor in USDA’s decision to review release times. As the clock sits now, the first major USDA report to be released “live” during the new trading hours would be the monthly crop report due on June 12. — Traci Eatherton, WLJ Editor