* USDA wants reports published when markets at full volume
* In past, commodities markets closed when reports issued
By Charles Abbott
WASHINGTON, Jan 30 The government will stick to
its new schedule of releasing major crop reports when the U.S.
futures markets are running at full volume, the Agriculture
Department said on Wednesday, despite plans for a shorter
trading day at the premiere Chicago exchange.
USDA switched to a Noon Eastern time release of its
market-moving estimates on Jan. 11 because the futures industry
had adopted nearly all-day trading. The reports are produced in
"lock ups" protected by armed guards to keep the information
Chief USDA economist Joe Glauber said the mid-day release
was selected after months of consultation with exchanges, farm
groups and the agricultural business sector "and we have no
further plans to change our current release schedule."
The USDA said its estimates of crop planting, yields, output
and usage would be released when market liquidity is greatest
and in the middle of the U.S. business day, allowing easy and
wide access to the data.
Until now, the department released reports in the early
morning, when commodity markets traditionally were closed. The
advent of 21- or 23-hour trading in spring 2012 meant the
reports were issued when market volume was low and the impact
Complaints about early-morning release of reports led to the
new schedule of mid-day for the monthly crop report and a
companion report on crops worldwide, the quarterly Grain Stocks
report, the Prospective Plantings report in March, the Acreage
report in June and the Small Grains Summary in September.
The release time came into question following the
announcement by CME Group, owner of the Chicago Board of
Trade, that it would shorten its 21-hour electronic trading day.
Some traders want the USDA reports to be issued while the
markets are closed or for trading to stop briefly when USDA
issues a major report.
Intercontinental Exchange, the upstart challenger of
CME Group, said it will stay open regardless.
Adoption of the mid-day release time was the first change
since May 10, 1994, by USDA in its handling of the crop report.
That was when it shifted from mid-afternoon release, after the
U.S. markets closed, to early morning. The change, sought by
market participants, put U.S. exchanges first in line to trade
on the information.