At the finish, front month Mar 16 London wheat was up GBP0.95/tonne at GBP106.75/tonne,
Mar 16 Paris wheat fell EUR0.50/tonne to EUR158.75/tonne, Mar 16 corn was EUR0.75/tonne
lower at EUR152.50/tonne and May 16 rapeseed was down EUR0.50/tonne to EUR362.50/tonne.
The pound was down as ideas of a UK interest rate rise any time soon got pushed
even further onto the back burners than they already had been.
One leading analyst told the BBC that in his opinion the BoE's understanding
of why inflation was so low had been "poor".
Deflation, not inflation, carries the greater risk. "I think part of that
criticism is about the whole case for forward guidance given the fact we live
in a world which is highly unpredictable and where external forces can derail
your economic forecasts pretty quickly," he noted.
Talking of external influences affecting your market, we've had quite a few
examples of those in Ag Commodities in recent years. Following China's bid for
Syngenta yesterday can we conclude that they are finally relaxing their attitude
on GMO's? If they are looking to increase domestic production by going down
that route then it could certainly have a negative impact on imports.
Elsewhere today, the FAO upgraded world wheat production in 2015/16 by 2.3
MMT on the back of larger than last anticipated harvests in Canada and Russia.
"Trade in 2015/16 raised by 2 million tonnes but still remaining below
the previous season’s level, mainly because of smaller expected imports
by Morocco, Iran and Turkey," they said
Stocks (ending in 2016) were lifted by 3.8 MMT on larger inventories in Argentina,
China, Russia and Ukraine -these are now expected to reach their highest level
in 13 years, they added.
Looking at production prospects for 2016/17 "in the EU, the extremely
mild weather of last December delayed the hardening of winter crops and intense
cold temperatures in January combined with shallow snow cover caused some frost
damage in eastern Europe," they noted.
"In Ukraine, there is concern as conditions prior to winter dormancy were
worse than average due to severe autumn dryness, which caused planted area to
be down. Winter damage will be assessed in the spring," they said.
The Ukraine Weather Centre said that current warmer than normal conditions
should prevail through to at least mid-Feb. They rate 2/3rds of Ukraine's winter
grains as being good to satisfactory, with one third weak/thinned.
The Ukraine Ministry said that the country had exported 23.85 MMT of grains
so far this season, with wheat accounting for 11.07 MMT of that total, corn
8.69 MMT and barley a further 3.94 MMT.
Isreali buyers were said to have booked 80,000 MT of optional origin corn and
18,000 MT of optional feed wheat in private tenders.
MDA CropCast estimated the EU-28 rapeseed crop in 2016/17 down 11% at 20.46
MMT, with plantings down 3.8% and yields 7.8% lower.
At the close of trading, Mar 16 London wheat was down GBP0.45/tonne at GBP105.80/tonne.
In Paris, Mar 16 wheat was down EUR0.75/tonne at EUR159.75/tonne, Mar 16 corn
was up EUR0.25/tonne at EUR153.25/tonne and May 16 rapeseed slumped EUR4.75/tonne
In London, the May 16/Nov 16 old crop/new crop spread widened further to GBP10.80/tonne.
That's a fairly cavernous gap, but not one that looks like narrowing just yet
either. How much wider can that go? I guess that depends on cashflow needs between
now and next harvest, along with the continued ability to store the 2015 crop
once we begin 2016.
It currently seems unlikely that, when we get much closer there, that new crop
Nov 16 will still command a GBP8.20/tonne premium of GBP8.20/tonne over old
crop Jul 16 as it does tonight. One needs to make some sort of a move to meet
the other, and old crop rallying much in the face of such large, some would
say unprecedented, domestic and EU carryover might be unlikely.
We could of course have a crop disaster somewhere around the world by then
- it seems like an awfully long time since we had one of those doesn't it? That
might help, regardless.
Ukraine and Russian weather conditions are turning mild, with snow melting,
but few predicting that the winter has ended there just yet. Lack of adequate
snow cover at this time of year increases the change of winter-kill as and when
harsh frosts return to the region, as they inevitably do, before we can truly
say that spring is here.
The USDA's FAS in Russia pegged their final 2015 wheat production estimate
at 61 MMT, up 3% versus the previous year. Barley output is seen down 15% at
17.1 MMT and corn production up 12.7% to a record 12.7 MMT.
They estimate 2015/16 total grain exports at 31 MMT this season, down slightly
from 31.5 MMT in 2014/15. Wheat exports will rise 1% to 23 MMT, corn exports
increase 18% to 3.5 MMT, but those for barley dip 31% to 3.7 MMT, they predict.
Egypt would appear to have shown their true colours: Delaying wheat shipments
due to "administrative" problems with letters of credit; rejecting
some shipments for failure to comply with contract terms: introducing new almost
impossible to stick to new contract terms; and now today reportedly asking Russia
if it would like to extend it some "special" extended payment terms
(a minimum of 6-months is what I am hearing - presumably in exchange for an
already guaranteed ergot-free discharge when the vessels finally do make it
At the finish, Mar 16 London wheat was up GBP0.25/tonne at GBP106.25/tonne,
Mar 16 Paris wheat was EUR1.00/tonne lower at EUR160.00/tonne, Mar 16 corn was
flat at EUR153.00/tonne and May 16 rapeseed jumped EUR3.50/tonne to EUR367.75/tonne.
Egypt picked up no offers at all in their wheat tender today. The apparent
lack of interest was due it seems to the recent alteration in the terms of the
contract to include a zero tolerance to ergot.
Earlier changes to payment can be perhaps coped with, or at least be priced
into any offer being made. The chance of suddenly finding yourself with an "afloat"
cargo of wheat in the Med suddenly looking for a home is not an appealing one
- nor one that is very easy to calculate the cost of when putting up an offer
The rejection of a 63,000 MT cargo of French wheat this week will have been
costly to the shipper concerned, said to be Bunge. Even if world wheat prices
are "cheap" the cost of the cargo concerned, arrived in the Egyptian
port of Damietta on a bulk carrier, the Amira, on Dec 21 (six weeks ago yesterday),
is reported to be around $12 million.
A spot buyer will now need to be found for this wheat, meaning an inevitable
drop in price as the cargo is now "distressed" even if it conforms
to other country's acceptable ergot limits. Interest and freight rates might
be cheap too, but the cost of leaving $12 million floating around the Med for
a month and a half won't have been negligible either. Freight will have been
included in the original offer, but the "demurrage" cost of leaving
the vessel loading and waiting around will not be recoverable.
So right now, even if they are the largest buyer in the world, Egypt are looking
like a risky one from a sellers point of view.
This means that new homes might potentially need to be found for whatever wheat
Egypt may have ultimately been in the market to buy in the coming weeks/months
before a solution is found to this problem. It also keeps sellers of existing
contracts to Egypt nervous ahead of their arrival and acceptance, unless they've
been formally customs cleared before they sail.
Egypt have already recently stated that they have plenty of wheat bought to
last them through to the beginning of their own harvest that begins not too
long from now, so the timing of this latest "hard-line" on ergot has
obviously been set to suit.
In other news, Russia may have raised grain exports in January from the 1.5
MMT previously estimated to around 1.65-1.79 MT due to a late month increase
in activity due to talk of a change to the wheat export duty. Some 1.3 MMT of
that total was probably wheat, they said.
The Russian analysts went on to forecast Feb grain exports at 1.55 MMT, including
1.2 MMT of wheat.
Bangladesh are tendering for 50,000 MT of optional origin milling wheat.
At the finish, front month Mar 16 London wheat was down GBP2.10/tonne at GBP106.00/tonne,
Mar 16 Paris wheat fell EUR2.75/tonne to EUR161.00/tonne, Mar 16 corn was EUR2.00/tonne
lower at EUR153.00/tonne and May 16 rapeseed was up EUR0.75/tonne to EUR364.25/tonne.
Needless to say this was a new all time contract low for beleaguered Mar 16
London wheat, and the contract now stands less than GBP0.50/tonne away from
taking out the May 15 lowest front month close since when as it?
The summer of 2010 that would be: when Apple released the first iPad; Volcanic
ash from Iceland brought chaos to the European aviation industry; Wolves, Blackpool,
Bolton and Birmingham City were in the Premier League.
Blimey! We must have seen some pretty dramatic changes since summer 2101 then?
World wheat production '10/11 was 650 MMT (now 735.4 MMT, +11.6%); world wheat
consumption '10/11 was 653 MMT (now 716 MMT, + 9.6%); world wheat ending stocks
'10/11 were 198 MMT (now 232 MMT, + 17%).
How does the world corn situation look, now compared with back then? World
corn production in '10/11 was 835 MMT (now 968 MMT, +13.7%); world corn consumption
'10/11 was 853 TMT (966 MMT), +13.2%); world corn ending stocks '10/11 were
128 MMT (now 209 MMT, +63%).
So on a global level for both wheat and corn production levels have only increased
relatively modestly, and rises have been almost matched by those of consumption.
Building ending stocks seems to be the problem, with those for wheat up 17%
over the last 5 years (noting that then back in 2010/11 stocks of almost 200
MMT weren't low - they were 30% of consumption).
Corn stocks meanwhile have jumped more than 60% during this period, although
the levels seen back in 2010/11 were tight representing 15% of global usage.
Paris wheat hit fresh contract lows also today, helped on it's way by Egypt
confirming that it was rejecting a cargo of French wheat found to be containing
GASC immediately launched a new tender, with the results expected tomorrow
afternoon. Who fancies it, and who doesn't (especially given their recent payment
problems), and what the prices submitted might be will certainly make interesting
At the close of trading, Mar 16 London wheat was down GBP0.50/tonne at GBP108.10/tonne.
In Paris, Mar 16 wheat was down EUR0.75/tonne at EUR163.75/tonne, Mar 16 corn
was up EUR0.50/tonne at EUR155.00/tonne and May 16 rapeseed was up EUR0.25/tonne
For the week, Mar 16 London wheat was GBP2.20/tonne lower, with Mar 16 Paris
wheat EUR0.75/tonne easier, Mar 16 corn down EUR1.00 and May 16 rapeseed EUR0.50/tonne
On the old crop/new crop spread, May16/Nov16 wheat closed at -GBP10.45/tonne
tonight versus -GBP9.00/tonne a week ago and -GBP8.50/tonne for the week prior
The European Commission raised their view on EU-28 soft wheat exports this
season by 1.2 MMT, taking these up to 29.1 MMT. That's 4 MMT down (or -12%)
from the record 33.1 MMT shipped out a year ago, but now means that we are now
more than in line to match that target using this week's cumulative total of
Their estimate for 2015/16 soft wheat ending stocks is now 15.8 MMT, down 1.8
MMT on their previous forecast, but still the highest since 2009, and up 4.8
MMT from the end of last season.
The USDA's FAS in Ethiopia said that they expect the country to need to import
around 2.5 MMT of wheat this season (Oct 15/Sep 16) following another crop badly
reduced by drought. Normal imports would be around 1 MMT.
Egyptian flour millers have already started lobbying the government there to
reduce the current 25% import duty on wheat as they fear a need to increase
the quality of this year's crop before it has even been harvested,
There's talk of a possible Russian announcement on wheat export duty changes
on Feb 3.
That has the remaining old crop London wheat contracts setting fresh contract
At the finish, Mar 16 London wheat was down GBP0.40/tonne at GBP108.60/tonne,
Mar 16 Paris wheat was EUR1.25/tonne lower at EUR164.50/tonne, Mar 16 corn fell
EUR0.50/tonne to EUR154.50/tonne and Feb 16 rapeseed was down EUR2.50/tonne
Fresh news was limited. Feb 16 Paris rapeseed goes off the board tomorrow and
May 16 becomes the new front month. The differential between those two contracts
tonight is 0.9%.
It is interesting then to note that on Paris corn difference between the two
nearby months is 5%, in Paris wheat it's 3.3% and in London wheat it's 2.2%
- and in all these case this is comparing two old crop months with each other.
The market clearly thinks that if you were to put a gun to it's head and force
it to carry anything then it would pick rapeseed right now (all the others are
offering new crop premiums of between 3.4% in corn to 9.7% in London wheat).
News out late confirms weekly EU soft wheat export licences at 822 000 MT,
up 61% on a week ago, taking the total granted so far to 14.845 MMT, down 11%
versus 16.715 MMT last year at this date.
Barley exports of 147 TMT were also announced, taking the season to date total
to 6.1 MMT, up 19.6% compared to 5.1 MMT this time a year ago.
Corn imports approved this week were 209 TMT, thankfully much lower than the
941 TMT worth passed a week ago.
Morocco tendered for 105 TMT worth of optional origin soft wheat. MDA CropCast
today lowered their forecast for wheat production there this year to 7.0 MMT,
down 12.5% on a year ago due to dryness.
Chinese think tank CNGOIC said that Chinese importers would probably ship in
around 3.5 MMT of corn this year. They've already contracted around 1.2 MMT
of that to be shipped in Q1, of which most will be of Ukraine origin, they say.
Russian officials forecast the 2016 grain crop there similar to last year (just
like they always do at this time of year!) at 104 MMT. They said that spring
plantings would be completed on 30.8 million ha.
At the finish, new front month Mar 16 London wheat was down GBP1.45/tonne at
GBP109.00/tonne, Mar 16 Paris wheat fell EUR2.75/tonne to EUR165.75/tonne, Mar
16 corn was EUR1.75/tonne lower at EUR155.00/tonne and Feb 16 rapeseed eased
EUR0.25/tonne to EUR362.50tonne.
The notion that the ever declining value of the Russian rouble might lead Russia
to tighten export restrictions on wheat is what has spooked the market a little
The "announcement" such as it was came merely as one of an assorted
list of pontifications that are released by the Russian leadership just about
every day, and this wouldn't be the first one that's had it's meaning altered
in translation. Such is the market that we operate in.
"This morning the Russian First Deputy Agricultural Minister has said
that Russia will actually consider a cut or removal of state wheat exports but
may impose duties on barley and maize exports," the HGCA said.
So what's going on? The truth is simply that we really don't know.
For now it looks like Russia's 2015/16 wheat exports are running around 3%
lower at 21.34 MMT, with wheat shipments at around 16 MMT (to Jan 20). The Russian
Ag Ministry say that calendar year 2016 grain exports will total 30 MMT, down
8.5% compared to 32.8 MMT in 2014/15.
The USDA's figures on Russia are pretty similar. They have 2014/15 wheat exports
at 23.5 MMT (versus 22.8 MMT last season), barley at 3.8 MMT (3.2 MMT) and corn
shipments at 3.8 MMT (3.2 MMT). That gives us combined "grain" exports,
excluding the likes of oats and rye, at 30.3 MMT this season, a 4.7% drop on
a year previously.
Essentially then, this latest "news" doesn't really look like a game
changer on a global level - the volumes we are talking about are too small,
and there are too many other eager sellers only too willing to step into the
It does however serve as another useful reminder of what heavily short fund
money can do to a market like Chicago wheat.
Meanwhile there are reports that one of the three French wheat cargoes sold
to Egypt's GASC that got held up prior to Christmas awaiting letters of credit,
is still waiting for customs clearance due to the presence of an unspecified
(but probably minute) quantity of ergot. GASC recently introduced a zero tolerance
It will be very interesting to see just how over-susbcribed future GACS tenders
are, and also what prices they attract. They are doing themselves no favours
At the close of trading, Mar 16 London wheat was up GBP0.15/tonne at GBP110.45/tonne.
In Paris, Mar 16 wheat rose EUR1.50/tonne at EUR168.50/tonne, Mar 16 corn was
up EUR0.50/tonne at EUR156.75/tonne and Feb 16 rapeseed was up EUR2.75/tonne
In its first report of 2016, the EU Commission's MARS Unit said that a lack
of hardiness caused by the "extremely mild weather of last December"
and "an intense cold air intrusion started on 29 December 2015 in the eastern
half of Europe" may have caused some crop damage.
"The sharp temperature drop combined with shallow (1-5 cm) snow cover,
primarily in Poland and western Ukraine, caused some frost injuries as simulated
by the model. This cold spell lasted until 6 January, and the most severe frosts
reached -15 and -18°C in this region. Slight or moderate frost-kill damages
are predicted in eastern Poland, the Baltic States, western and southern Ukraine,
Moldavia, south-western Belarus, north-eastern Romania and some regions of southern
"The possibility of minor frost-kill damages also exists in some spots
of Sweden, Finland, Bulgaria and Turkey. As far as the weather forecast is concerned,
no additional frost-kill damages are indicated by our model until the end of
January," they added.
Their next report is due on Feb 22.
The Ukraine Ag Ministry said that the country had finished 2015 with a total
grain harvest of just under 60 MMT, some 6% down on a year previously. That
includes 26.5 MMT of wheat (-10%), 8.3 MMT of barley (-8.5%) and 23.2 MMT of
Ukraine's 2015 OSR crop ended up at 1.7 MMT for a year-on-year decline of 20.8%.
Ukraine said that it had exported almost 24 MMT of grains this month, including
10.9 MMT of wheat, 8.95 MMT of corn and 3.93 MMT of barley.
The market is still trying to weigh up Russia, and what it may, or may not,
do next as far as it's current export duties are concerned on wheat.
The notion that they might restrict exports further, at a time when fund money
already has a sizable short position in Chicago wheat, could stimulate some
supportive buying - even if US wheat is likely to see little direct export benefit.
Rusagrotrans estimated the country's Feb grain exports at 1.4 MMT, down from
1.5 MMT this month, and far lower than the record 3.85 MMT shipped out in December.
On the international tender front, Algeria are in the market for 50,000 MT
of feed barley.
At the finish, Mar 16 London wheat was unchanged at GBP110.30/tonne, Mar 16
Paris wheat was up EUR2.75/tonne to EUR167.00/tonne, Mar 16 corn rose EUR0.25/tonne
to EUR159.25/tonne and Feb 16 rapeseed was also up EUR0.25/tonne to EUR360.00/tonne.
Fresh news was limited to start the week. One item of note reported on Reuters
though was that the Russian Ag Ministry said that they "haven't ruled out
a tightening of restrictive measures on grain exports".
The current measures were introduced when the Russian rouble was trading well
below the current level of around 80 against the greenback (it even hit an all
time low 85 on Thursday), and the very notion of simply publicly admitting that
the Russian currency might ever weaken to such an extent was incomprehensible.
Not any more it would seem. Whilst on the one hand an export duty tied to the
value of the RUB/USD means generally favourable domestic wheat price for Russian
growers, it also punishes the livestock industry AND increases the amount of
duty that needs to be paid when selling wheat abroad. Going forward it also
potentially dramatically increases input costs for the 2016 crop.
The duty problem is exacerbated by the fact that the exporter has no idea what
the final amount payable will be when he sells the wheat, that is determined
at the time of the actual shipment itself.
The latest mutterings, whilst not halting Russian exports, does cast a fairly
large cloud of uncertainty over them.
Any changes to the tariff will therefore be watched with interest, to see if
they appear designed at supporting the Russian livestock industry or the grain
The Russian Ag Ministry said today that the country had exported 21.34 MMT
of grains so far this season (to Jan 20), a 3% reduction on a year ago. That
includes just under 16 MMT of wheat, 3.3 MMT of barley and 1.9 MMT of corn.
The Russian export watchdog (Rosselkhoznadzor) are using figures somewhat higher
(admittedly for a slightly different period to Jan 25). They say that 1.36 MMT
of grain has been exported so far this month, taking the season to date total
to 24.3 MMT, including 16.9 MMT of wheat. Note though that the official Ministry
numbers don't include exports to some "preferred" country's such as
APK Inform say that Russian seaports exported 328.3 TMT of grains last week,
up from 310.2 TMT the previous week, including 237.7 TMT of wheat, 75.5 TMT
of corn and 15.1 TMT of barley.
The same analyst says that Ukraine's seaports exported only 298 TMT of grains
last week, down sharply from 478.6 TMT the previous week. Last week's volume
comprised 136 TMT of wheat, 155.5 TMT of corn and 6.5 TMT of barley.
On the international tender front, Tunisia said that they'd bought 92 TMT of
soft wheat and 50 TMT of feed barley, both of optional origin for Apr/May shipment.
India said that it had finalised the purchase of 255,500 MT of Ukraine corn.
At the finish, new front month Mar 16 London wheat was down GBP0.45/tonne at
GBP110.30/tonne, Mar 16 Paris wheat was up EUR0.25/tonne to EUR164.25/tonne,
Mar 16 corn rose EUR1.00/tonne to EUR156.00/tonne and Feb 16 rapeseed jumped
EUR3.25/tonne to EUR359.75/tonne.
For the week, that puts London wheat GBP1.30/tonne lower, with Paris wheat
and corn both down a euro, and rapeseed up EUR2.50/tonne.
On the old crop/new crop spread, May16/Nov16 wheat closed at GBP9.00/tonne
versus GBP8.50/tonne a week ago and GBP7.65/tonne the week before that.
So, we have a market still grinding lower, rather than on that appears to be
in free fall.
Brussels confirmed that they'd released 511 TMT worth of EU soft wheat export
licences this past week, a 32% decline versus a week ago. France picked up 36%
of that total.
Season to date export licences now stand at 14.02 MMT (with French wheat getting
29% of that), some 13% down compared with a year ago.
Barley export licences this past week were 155 TMT, a 5.5% fall compared with
last week and season to date licences of 5.92 MMT are up 24% versus 12 months
A notable "eyebrow raiser" this week is that corn import licences
totalled 941 TMT this week - almost double the volume of soft wheat exports
approved. That takes the season so far total to 8.11 MMT, up 62% compared to
this time a year ago.
The size of EU wheat exports, and the pressure of large corn imports then are
two areas that are concerning the market. Meanwhile lurking in the background
is the spectre of very large wheat carryover stocks all over Europe and the
Slightly lower world wheat production in 2016/17 seems for now to be more than
compensated for by record large 2015/16 ending stocks.
Global demand is good, but buyers can afford to be choosy.
Following yesterday's tender, Egypt's GASC said that they now had enough wheat
bought to last them through to May 11. Such announcements are routine, and certainly
don't rule them out of tendering again soon, although they appear to have a
few problems of their own to iron out first.
They may be the world's largest wheat buyer, but they aren't necessarily the
most desirable name to have on your books. Argentina appear to really only have
feed wheat to sell now. Having struck a clean sweep in the previous GASC tender,
they didn't even put up an offer yesterday.
The oil-led weakness of the Russian rouble is an interesting 2-sided influence
for Russian wheat exports. On the one hand it make the rouble-based export prices
look quite attractive, but on the other it also raises the export duty payable
on the sale (to around $12/tonne based on the rouble falling below 80 to the
US dollar this week, according to Agritel).
Jordan cancelled a tender for 100,000 MT of hard wheat and immediately re-tendered
for the same, Tunisia are said to be in the market for 92,000 MT of soft wheat
and 50,000 MT of feed barley, both of optional origin.