28 January 2015 | Online since 2003

EU Reports

24 January 2015 | EU Reports
23/01/15 -- EU grains closed mixed, with the Paris markets mostly higher on acute euro weakness, and London wheat falling in an attempt to make our exports more competitive with those on the continent.

At the close, Jan 15 London wheat was went off the board GBP0.45/tonne lower at GBP126.30/tonne, Mar 15 Paris wheat was EUR0.50/tonne higher at EUR198.50/tonne, Mar 15 Paris corn was EUR1.00/tonne firmer at EUR159.25/tonne and Feb 15 Paris rapeseed was u EUR1.25/tonne at EUR356.50/tonne.

For the week overall there was very little movement, London wheat was unchanged, whilst the Paris market rose one euro. Corn was down a quarter and rapeseed fell half a euro. The market is still largely ignoring what is going on in Russia and Ukraine, both militarily and crop-wise.

The big story of the week that has grabbed everyone's attention has to be the ECB move to pump more than EUR1 trillion into the eurozone economy which sent the euro tumbling to an 11 year low against the US dollar and a new 7 year low versus the pound. The latter meanwhile fell below 1.50 against the US currency today, a level not seen since July 2013.

Despite previous denials, the Russian Deputy PM has apparently now admitted that the recent tough stance on phytosanitary rules was a deliberate attempt to limit grain exports in January, before the new export duty comes in on Feb 1. These rules will be relaxed after that date for the purposes of "transparency in the market" he said! That's Russian politics for you.

He said that Russia will export around 28 MMT of grains this season, which is some 6 MMT more than they have currently shipped, according to his figures. The last numbers released from the Russian Ag Ministry said that the country had exported 21.571 MMT of grains to Jan 15.

The USDA currently have Russia down to export 27.3 MMT of wheat, corn and barley in 2014/15.

Europe will be the most likely beneficiary of any shortfall in Russian exports, particularly given the recent demise of the euro.

Brussels said that they'd issued 728 TMT of soft wheat export licences this past week, up 32% on the previous week. That takes the marketing year to date total so far to just over 16 MMT, which is 4% less than last year's record pace. Europe has also exported 531 TMT of durum wheat so far this season, putting all wheat exports at almost 16.6 MMT, which is 55% of the USDA's 30 MMT target for the season.

Brussels also granted 286 TMT worth of barley export licences, taking the season so far total to 4.77 MMT, which is in line with a year ago. Cumulative corn import licences are down 23% versus last year at 5.14 MMT.

Ukraine's Food Minister denied that the country has any plans to limit grain exports, despite it being widely reported recently that a cap on milling wheat sales had recently been agreed with the country's exporters. Ukraine politics clearly isn't much different to that in Russia.

Looking ahead to 2015 production prospects, Russia's Institute for Agricultural Market Studies (IKAR) were said to have estimated the country's grain production potential this year at only 86 MMT, a sharp 17.3% fall on output this season. Wheat will account for 50 MMT of that total, a 15.3% fall compared to this season, they said.

23 January 2015 | EU Reports
22/01/15 -- EU grains traded mixed, but mostly a little higher, as they are starting to develop a sideways look to them.

Front month Paris wheat hasn't closed outside the EUR190-200/tonne range so far this year, whilst Jan 15 London wheat has been stuck in the GBP125-135/tonne for the same period. Paris corn seems content to trade in the range of EUR155-165/tonne and Paris rapeseed hasn't been outside the EUR354-364/tonne area since the opening day of the year.

At the close Jan 15 London wheat was down GBP0.05/tonne at GBP126.75/tonne, Mar 15 Paris wheat was EUR0.25/tonne higher at EUR198.00/tonne, Mar 15 Paris corn was EUR1.25/tonne higher at EUR158.25/tonne and Feb 15 Paris rapeseed was up EUR0.25/tonne to EUR355.25/tonne.

Something surely has to give, but what? For the bulls, Russia and Ukraine surely hold the key?

Russia now has more than 9,000 soldiers and 500 tanks, heavy artillery and armoured personnel carriers in eastern Ukraine, the latter's President says, according to a report on the BBC today.

A report on Reuters meanwhile yesterday suggested that Russia's President Putin will settle for the autonomy from Kiev, but within Ukraine's borders, of the rebel-held Donetsk and Luhansk regions - but nothing less.

Relations between Russia and the West are getting sensitive again. That won't help the Russian rouble, or the country's inflation rate - now running at 11.9%, up from 11.4% at the end of 2014, and moving rapidly higher. Food inflation is already said to be at 16%.

This is one of the main reasons that Russian farmers are content to sit on what remaining grain stocks they have, rather than sell them to the government's intervention programme - this is the nearest thing they've got to dollars right now.

On top of that, crop prospects for 2015 in some parts aren't looking good at all due to "extreme temperatures and lack of snow early in the winter". In the Volgograd region, of the 1.3 million hectares of winter grains that have been planted, only 18% are said to be in good condition, with 42% classed as "satisfactory" and 40% in a "poor" state.

Russian growers' ability to be able to fund a spring replanting and inputs purchasing programme must be called into question given their lack of access to credit and rapidly rising inflation, combined with the hefty decline in value of the rouble.

Back in Ukraine again, the President of their Agrarian Union said that the cost of sowing spring crops there in 2015 would be around 40-50% up on a year ago. Local Ammonium Nitrate prices have doubled in the last 12 months, and diesel prices have risen 60%, he said.

These guys are also going to find it very tough to fund the purchase of their inputs this year then it would seem.

Whilst the global market isn't oblivious to these developments, its reaction is strangely subdued.

The bears are pointing to economic slowdown in China, the alarming slump in crude oil prices, potentially record world soybean production (and ending stocks) this year, and fickle fund money getting out of commodities and saying that the worst isn't over yet.

The ECB meanwhile announced no move on interest rates in the eurozone, and that they are to unleash more than EUR1 trillion in quantitative easing, pumping EUR60 a month into a bond-buying programme. The euro sunk to a new 7 year low of 1.32 against the pound following the news.

22 January 2015 | EU Reports
21/01/15 -- EU grains closed mostly higher, with reports of increased unrest in eastern Ukraine possibly causing a bit of short-covering and/or encouraging one or two specs back into the market.

The pound was down against both the euro and the US dollar. The minutes from the Bank of England's January meeting showed a unanimous vote to keep interest rates on hold, and hinted at less willingness to consider a rise for some time yet.

At the close, Jan 15 London wheat was up GBP0.55/tonne to GBP126.80/tonne; Mar 15 Paris wheat was up EUR1.25/tonne to EUR197.75/tonne; Mar 15 Paris corn was EUR0.25/tonne higher at EUR157.00/tonne; Feb 15 Paris rapeseed rose EUR0.25/tonne to EUR355.00/tonne.

"A surge in violence in east Ukraine is undermining international hopes that Russia's financial crisis and Western sanctions will force President Vladimir Putin to change policy on the conflict," said a report on Reuters. There is "a growing sense of foreboding" as the as fighting between government forces and the separatists intensifies, they said.

Rusagrotrans trimmed their forecast for Russian grain exports this month from 1.5 MMT to 1.3 MMT, a near 60% decline compared with those in December. Exports during the first half of the month were just 588 TMT, they noted.

The Russian Ag Ministry estimated domestic grain consumption at 72.8 MMT this season, which is around 3 MMT higher than normal, presumably due to increased demand from the feed sector due to the ban on importing various Western food commodities.

Russian wheat consumption this season will total 37.4 MMT, they said. That's 2.4 MMT higher than the USDA currently forecast.

Morgan Stanley estimated Russian inflation at the end of 2015 to be running at 13.7%, which would be higher then the 11.4% that it finished 2014 at. It's also far higher than the Russian Ministry's own official forecast of 7.5%.

Inflation continuing at those levels will not encourage Russian farmers to sell their grain. The government picked up a miserly less than 3,000 MT of grain at today's latest round of purchases for the intervention fund.

Meanwhile, there's continued uncertainty over the health of winter sown crops in both Russia and Ukraine. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, there's also a huge question mark hanging over the ability of farmers in both countries to afford spring inputs.

Russian lending to farmers is reported to be down 22% in rouble terms, despite the alarming devaluation of that currency meaning that it really should be far higher than year ago levels.

In Ukraine, winter grains in the Donetsk region are said to be rated 37% good, 44% satisfactory and 17% weak/thinned - the latter figure being about in line with the national average of 18%. A year ago that figure was 8%.

The Ukraine Ag Ministry said that they'd exported 20.77 MMT or grains so far this season, including 8.5 MMT of wheat, 8.3 MMT of corn and 3.75 MMT of barley.

There's no sign yet of the memorandum due to be issued by the Ministry, detailing exactly what was agreed between them and Ukraine grain exporters at last week's meeting when an "informal" cap on wheat exports was mooted.

21 January 2015 | EU Reports
20/01/15 -- EU grains closed mixed. Despite US markets re-opening after yesterday's Martin Luther King Day holiday, trade remained relatively subdued.

At the close, Jan 15 London wheat was up GBP0.45/tonne at GBP126.25/tonne, Mar 15 Paris wheat was EUR0.50/tonne higher at EUR196.50/tonne, Mar 15 Paris corn was EUR1.50/tonne lower at EUR156.25/tonne and Feb 15 Paris rapeseed was down EUR3.25/tonne at EUR354.75/tonne.

Russia only managed to pick up around 7,000 MT of wheat at today's latest intervention purchase round. That takes the total bought so far this season to a relatively miserly 320 TMT out of a government target of at least 3 MMT, as growers continue to hold onto their stocks as a hedge against inflation and the falling rouble.

There are now rumblings of the Russian government "withdrawing state support" from those farmers who continue to hoard their grain stocks.

The Deputy Russian PM also said that further and "more radical proposals" could be introduced to curb wheat exports should the new Feb 1 duty prove to be not enough to curb foreign sales, and encourage growers to sell their stocks to the intervention fund.

The latest customs data shows that Russia exported less than 600 TMT of grains in the first half of January, down sharply from around 1.5 MMT in the corresponding period in December. Whilst this can partly be attributed to adverse weather conditions and the extended Orthodox Christmas celebrations, certainly some of this slow down can also be blamed on difficulties in obtaining the necessary customs clearance.

The combined effect of these new developments is likely to cap Russian wheat exports at around 18 MMT this season, which is around 4 MMT lower than original expectations. (The USDA themselves were forecasting Russian wheat exports of 22 MMT in 2014/15 as recently as December).

So this potentially leaves an extra 4 MMT of global wheat demand to switch to other origins, of which Europe is expected to pick up the lion’s share of the business.

In other news, Kazakhstan said that their Jan 1 grains stocks were 13.15 MMT, of which 11 MMT was wheat.

Ukraine said that growers there had planted 8 million hectares of winter grains, including 6.8 million ha of wheat. In addition they'd also planted almost 900k ha of winter OSR, said the Ag Ministry.

Around 3% of winter grains haven't yet emerged, and 18% of what has emerged remains in a weak/thinned state.

Jordan are tendering for 100,000 MT each of wheat and barley for Jun/Jul shipment.

20 January 2015 | EU Reports
19/01/15 -- With US markets closed for the Martin Luther King Day holiday this was never going to be a "Thriller in Manilla", more of a "Yawn in Benidorm" perhaps, and so it's proven to be so far in a day of quiet, low volume trade.

At the close, Jan 15 London wheat was down GBP0.50/tonne at GBP125.80/tonne, Mar 15 Paris wheat was EUR1.50/tonne lower at EUR196.00/tonne, Mar 15 Paris corn was EUr1.25/tonne easier at EUR158.25/tonne and Feb 15 Paris rapeseed was up EUR1.00/tonne to EUR358.00/tonne.

Fresh news was predictably light.

Egypt's Supplies Ministry said that it had enough wheat now bought to last it through to mid-May, which is well after their own local harvest begins. That said, these sorts of announcements are routine and don't rule them out of re-entering the market again soon, especially if prices dip further.

Last week's latest GASC tender purchased wheat for the end of February, which suggests that they will probably be back to buy Mar 1-10 shipment in the not too distant future.

They're reported to have bought a fraction over 3 MMT of wheat on the international market for 2014/15 shipment so far this season, which is around 1 MMT less than they'd purchased this time a year ago.

For the whole of last season they finished up buying 5.46 MMT of wheat on the international market, so even if they were to end 2014/15 buying a million tonnes (or even more) less than they did then, there's probably still a fair bit of interest to come from them before the season ends.

French wheat would remain the red-hot favourite to pick up the majority of that business.

Russia said that they'd exported 588 TMT of grains in the first 15 days of the month. That's only around a third of the 1.718 MMT exported in the first 17 days of December.

Exports would therefore seem to have slowed up sharply. Although adverse weather conditions can be blamed for at least some of this decline, it's an interesting statistic nonetheless, given that shippers are supposed to be trying to rush through existing commitments before the Feb 1 export duty kicks in.

Wheat accounts for 495 TMT, or 84% of the total shipped out this month so far.

Russia's 2014/15 season to date grain exports are now 21.571 MMT, a rise of 31.6% on a year ago. Wheat accounts for 16.852 MMT of that volume, or 78% of the total. Barley adds a further 3.26 MMT and corn an additional 1.183 MMT.

Looking ahead, "wheat prospects in Europe (for the 2015 harvest) are not as favourable as last season. This is likely due to unseasonably warm temperatures in the autumn growing season. September-November temperatures were 2-4 C (4-7 F) above normal, encouraging high evaporation and sapping field moisture," suggest Martell Crop Projections.

"Mid-November satellite images reveal sub-par vegetative health in all 3 of the top wheat producing countries of France, Germany and the United Kingdom, compared to last year," they say.

Topsoil moisture has increased sharply with heavy rainfall in northern Europe in the last 30 days however, they note. Conversely, countries in south eastern Europe like Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria have turned drier after widespread flooding in the autumn, they add.

In other news, India said that it had planted 30.4 million hectares of wheat for the 2015 harvest, which is around 1 million less than a year ago at this time.

17 January 2015 | EU Reports
16/01/15 -- EU grains closed mostly higher, with Paris grains helped by continuing weakness in the euro. The results of yesterday's Egyptian tender again highlighted that French wheat is priced at the most competitive levels on the world stage, so why would prices need to move lower?

The day ended with Jan 15 London wheat up GBP0.80/tonne to GBP126.30/tonne; Mar 15 Paris wheat was up EUR3.25/tonne to EUR197.50/tonne; Mar 15 Paris corn was EUR1.25/tonne higher at EUR159.50/tonne; Feb 15 Paris rapeseed rose EUR3.00/tonne to EUR357.00/tonne.

For the week, Jan 15 London wheat was still down GBP4.90/tonne, although Mar 15 Paris wheat was EUR2.75/tonne firmer. Mar 15 Paris corn fell EUR3.25/tonne versus last Friday and Feb 15 Paris rapeseed was down EUR4.25/tonne.

Brussels announced last night that they'd granted 553 TMT worth of soft wheat export licences this past week, taking the cumulative season to date total to 15.3 MMT, which is 3.8% down on where things stood a year ago. The USDA currently estimate EU all wheat exports to fall by 6% in 2014/15 compared to last season's record.

Brussels also approved that Ukraine could export 950 TMT of wheat, 400 TMT of corn and 250 TMT of barley to the EU in a preferential duty-free deal. The new quota applied for the whole of the 2015 calendar year.

How much of that might be taken up in the remainder of the 2014/15 crop year (Jul/Jun) remains to be seen, as the Ukraine authorities appear to be looking to restrict wheat exports, particularly milling wheat exports, at this moment in time.

The Ukraine Ministry said that the country had shipped 20.5 MMT of grains so far this season, including 8.44 MMT of wheat, 8.10 MMT of corn and 3.73 MMT of barley. In the case of wheat that's around 77% of the USDA's forecast for the season. It's also already 1 MMT more than the USDA's barley estimate for the whole of 2014/15.

The pound settled at a seven year high 1.31 versus the beleaguered euro tonight. Further euro nervousness probably lies ahead, with the Greek elections due next weekend, and an ECB sponsored full-blown quantitative easing programme seemingly just around the corner.

The pound is up almost 2.5% against the euro versus last Friday, which Bloomberg say is its biggest weekly advance in almost two years.

"This has reduced Paris rapeseed futures in GBP/tonne terms and means that UK rapeseed prices are likely to under increased pressure in order to remain competitive in EU markets," said the HGCA. Similar comments might also be applied to UK wheat.

Meanwhile the 55% slump in global crude oil values from the highs of last summer continue to challenge the UK, EU and US bioethanol/ethanol industries to maintain some sort of profitability.

16 January 2015 | EU Reports
15/01/15 -- Paris grains trade higher on bargain hunting and the weak euro. The pound rose above 1.30 against the single currency, to it's highest level since 2008, following a ruling by the European Court of Justice which essentially paves the way for the ECB to introduce a Quantitative Easing programme with little in the way of a legal challenge.

At the close, Jan 15 London wheat was down GBP0.30/tonne at GBP125.50/tonne, Mar 15 Paris wheat was EUR2.25/tonne higher at EUR194.25/tonne, Mar 15 Paris corn was EUR1.25/tonne firmer at EUR158.25/tonne and Feb 15 Paris rapeseed was down EUR1.25/tonne at EUR354.00/tonne.

The Swiss Central Bank shocked the markets by abandoning it's 1.20 floor versus the euro today, with the Swiss Franc immediately surging 25% against the single currency.

Whilst the continued demise of the euro looks set to further boost EU wheat export hopes, it will do little to aid those from the UK though.

French analysts Strategie Grains raised their forecast for EU-28 soft wheat exports this season by 2.1 MMT to 29.3 MMT, which would now equal the record volume shipped out in 2013/14.

FranceAgriMer yesterday raised their estimate for French soft wheat exports to non-EU destinations by 300 TMT to 8.8 MMT, as they continue to pick up extra export business.

They said that the Russian export duty that comes into force on Feb 1 will keep an estimated 2.5-3.0 MMT of Russian wheat off the international market. That does of course however add a similar volume to be carried into next season's beginning stocks.

Despite an improved export outlook, FranceAgriMer estimated French soft wheat ending stocks at 4.34 MMT, which is still almost 2 MMT (or 85%) higher than at the end of last season.

French corn stocks were seen at 4 MMT following record production this year, that's up 74% versus 2013/14. Barley carryout was estimated at 1.5 MMT, an increase of 44% versus 12 months previously.

Ukraine said that the country had exported 20.2 MMT of grains so far this season, including 8.35 MMT of wheat, 7.85 MMT of corn and 3.72 MMT of barley.

APK Inform said that they expect Ukraine to export 32.9 MMT of grains in total in 2014/15, up 2.9% on last season, and 800 TMT above their previous estimate.

Wheat exports will rise 16.4% to 10.8 MMT, although corn shipments will drop 8.8% to 18.0 MMT, they added.

Egypt's GASC bought 240,000 MT of French wheat for Feb 19-29 shipment in their second tender of 2015. The price paid was substantially cheaper than that of only a week ago. There were no Russian or Ukraine offers, and Romanian wheat was priced out, as too was Argentine origin.

Libya are also tendering for 50,000 MT of optional origin milling wheat.

15 January 2015 | EU Reports
14/01/15 -- EU grains closed lower across the board, in what looks like a general commodity exodus as investment money switches into equities.

Jan 15 London wheat ended down GBP3.20/tonne at GBP125.0/tonne, Mar 15 Paris wheat was EUR3.50/tonne lower at EUR192.00/tonne, Mar 15 Paris corn was down EUR2.50/tonne at EUR157.00/tonne and Feb 15 Paris rapeseed fell EUR1.75/tonne to EUR355.25/tonne.

Crude oil slumped to a new near 6-year low today, just a few days after one well-known Saudi prince said that $100/barrel would never be seen again - a bold statement considering that it was above that level less than 6 months ago.

Reports out of Ukraine indicate that at yesterday's "routine" meeting between the government and grain trading houses it was "agreed" to limit milling wheat exports for the remainder of the season to 1.2 MMT.

Of that total the Ag Ministry only want no more than 400 TMT to be shipped out between now and March 15th, when a better grasp can be had on the health, or otherwise, of the country's winter wheat crop. Provided that conditions are assessed as "good" then the remaining 800 TMT of that quota can then be shipped.

What proportion of the crop needs to be "good" for that to happen is unclear. Current estimates have around 18-20% of the crop in a poor condition.

Agritel report a new Ukraine all wheat export objective of 12 MMT, of which the Ministry said earlier in the week that 8.34 MMT has been shipped already. They also report on a barley export target of 4.2 MMT (3.72 MMT shipped already) and a corn aim of 20.2 MMT (versus 7.77 MMT shipped so far).

Rusagrotrans said that Russia exported 3.15 MMT of grain in December, and that will fall to around 1.5 MMT this month. Jul/Dec exports are 21.1 MMT (+29% versus a year ago), including 16.5 MMT of wheat (78% of that total), 3.2 MMT of barley (15%) and 1.1 MMT of corn (5%).

Wheat exports after the end of the month are expected to be negligible once the new export duty kicks in.

The Russian Ministry for Economic Development said that inflation there will peak at 15-17% in March/April. It stood at 11.4% at the end of December, up from 9.1% in November.

The UK imported 231.4 TMT of corn in November, up 25% versus October and 4% higher than in November 2013. France (160.9 TMT) was the largest supplier.

That takes Jul/Nov corn imports to 717.3 TMT, a 3% fall versus the same period a year previously. Again France (331.1 TMT) was the principal supplier.

The volume of corn imported in November outstrips the size of wheat exports (206.5 TMT), where Spain (94.8 TMT) was the top home.

FranceAgriMer raised their forecast for French soft wheat exports to non-EU destinations from 8.5 MMT to 8.8 MMT.

14 January 2015 | EU Reports
13/01/15 -- EU grains traded mixed. News that UK inflation fell to 0.5% in December, the joint lowest on record, seemed to make little difference to the pound which was up against the euro and down versus the US dollar.

The day ended with Jan 15 London wheat down GBP0.20/tonne to GBP129.00/tonne; Mar 15 Paris wheat was up EUR1.50/tonne to EUR195.50/tonne; Mar 15 Paris corn was EUR2.75/tonne lower at EUR159.50/tonne; Feb 15 Paris rapeseed was EUR1.25/tonne firmer at EUR357.00/tonne.

UkrAgroConsult said that the EU-28 2015 rapeseed crop could fall 15% to a 3-year low of around 20.5 MMT due to the neonicotinoid ban.

Russia bought 20,925 MT of grains for its intervention fund, in its first purchasing round of 2015. That takes the total bought so far this season to only 308,860 MT out of an official government target of 5 MMT.

Inflation in Russia finished 2014 at 11.4%, said the local State Stats Office. It was only 6.1% at the beginning of the year, prior to the seizure of Crimea and subsequent Western sanctions against them.

Agritel said that Russia had exported 16.3 MMT of wheat in 2014/15 (to Dec 31), and that they don't expect full season exports to finish much higher than 18 MMT due to the new Feb 1 export duty. That's 2 MMT less than the USDA forecast yesterday and 0.3 MMT below exports in 2013/14.

Ukraine said that it had exported more than 20 MMT of grains so far this season (to Jan 12), including 8.34 MMT of wheat, 3,72 MMT of barley and 7.77 MMT of corn.

APK Inform said that Ukraine exported 200 TMT of wheat to Egypt in December, and has shipped the world's largest wheat buyer a record 1.66 MMT of wheat so far in 2014/15, up from 1.43 MMT a year ago. They forecast Ukraine's full season 2014/15 wheat exports at 10.8 MMT, up from 9.3 MMT a year ago, although slightly less than the 11.0 MMT estimated by the USDA yesterday.

Turkey bought 60 TMT of durum wheat and 50 TMT of barley in a tender. Israel are in the market for 100 TMT of optional origin corn.

13 January 2015 | EU Reports
12/01/15 -- EU grains were mostly lower in subdued trade ahead of today's USDA WASDE and quarterly stocks report due at 5pm London time. They will also give us their thoughts on US winter wheat plantings then too.

At the close, Jan 15 London wheat was down GBP2.00/tonne at GBP129.20/tonne, Jan 15 Paris wheat was EUR2.50/tonne lower at EUR192.25/tonne, Mar 15 Paris corn was EUR0.50/tonne easier at EUR162.25/tonne and Feb 15 Paris rapeseed was EUR5.50/tonne weaker at EUR355.75/tonne.

Fresh news of any particular note is scare ahead of tonight's USDA announcements.

The Ukraine Ministry said that they had no plans to restrict grain exports, and that tomorrow's scheduled meeting with traders there was simply part of its normal routine to discuss things for the year ahead. We shall see if that's true in due course.

They may seek "voluntary" agreements with the trading houses concerned, who will be very keen to agree to whatever it takes to obtain the appropriate VAT refunds on grains that have already been exported this season. The government recently proposed to cancel this arrangement.

Inflation in Ukraine officially hit 24.8% at the end of December.

The Ukraine Ministry said that the country had exported 19.6 MMT of grains so far this season, to Jan 6, including 8.16 MMT of wheat, 3.63 MMT of barley and 7.66 MT of corn.

The USDA's December WASDE report had them down to export 10.3 MMT of wheat in 2014/15, along with 2.7 MMT of barley and 16.5 MMT of corn. That means that they've already shipped out 79%, 135% and 46% respectively of those volumes already.

The Ukraine Ministry said that they had shipped all 1 MMT of corn in a contract signed with China in October, contrary to reports around a month ago that they may default on up to 20% of that deal.

Russian banks are said to have ended 2014 lending 22% less money to farmers to carryout fieldwork on winter crops than a year ago. That's a large number when you consider that they are talking in roubles, given the demise of domestic currency. If they were to have lent the same amount in real rouble terms then farmer borrowing should be up 50% year-on-year

Kazakhstan said that it had no plans to introduce grain export restrictions/duties. Their crop came in at 18.9 MMT this year, or 17 MMT in clean weight, leaving around 7 MMT available for export, according to the local Ag Ministry.

India's state-owned wheat stocks are 25.1 MMT, which is three times the government's minimum buffer requirement. Harvesting of new crop starts in March. Plantings for that are 2% down versus this time a year ago at 29.93 million ha.

Egypt said that after last week's purchase of French wheat they now have enough wheat bought to last them until the first week of May.

Bangladesh are tendering for 50 TMT of wheat. The USDA's FAS forecast that the country will import 3 MMT of wheat this season, down slightly on the 3.3 MMT shipped in last season.

Late in the day, the USDA raised their outlook on EU wheat exports this season by 1 MMT to 30 MMT. Russia's were lowered 2 MMT to 20 MMT. Ukraine's and Kazakhstan's were increased by 700 TMT and 200 TMT respectively.

They also nudged higher the size of the 2014/15 EU-28 wheat crop from 155.4 MMT to 155.5 MMT.

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