Traders 'shy away' from long term Ukraine grain contracts
Beans closed mostly a little higher, save for expiring front month May 14 which went off the board 6 cents lower. This was due to a late turnaround in prices, which had been sharply lower for much of the session. Yesterday's news that the first Chinese government soybean auction of the spring had been far better received that many had expected was supportive. They sold 92% of the 300 TMT of beans on offer. A report on Reuters said that China's leading soybean importer will not default on soybean purchase contracts despite facing large losses, in order to protect its relationship with its suppliers.
The Rosario Grains Exchange estimated Argentina’s 2013/14 bean crop at a record 55.7 MMT, up from a previous estimate of 54.9 MMT, and far higher than the USDA's 54 MMT forecast. They said that 68% of the bean crop is harvested versus 80% for the three year average. Goldman Sachs said that they expect bean prices to fall to $10.50/bu in the next 6 months.
A "slowdown in Chinese imports on high domestic stocks and the expected record-large US soybean acreage this summer, point to a sharp recovery in US soybean inventories in 2014-15…and lower soybean prices," they were quoted as saying on Agrimoney.com. There's a NOPA crush report out tomorrow, with trade expectations averaging around 132.5 million bushels, although the range of estimates is wide at 124.7-141 million, versus 153.84 million in March and 120.113 million in April 2013. Also out tomorrow is the usual weekly export sales report, with trade expectations for beans of zero to 50,000 MT on old crop and sales of around 150,000 to 250,000 MT on new crop. Informa are also expected to release their revised US planting estimates tomorrow, with the 2014 soybean area forecast at 81.204 million acres last month versus the USDA March estimate of 81.5 million. May 14 Soybeans closed at $14.96 1/4, down 6 cents; Jul 14 Soybeans closed at $14.86 3/4, up 3 cents; May 14 Soybean Meal closed at $497.90, up $0.20; May 14 Soybean Oil closed at 41.19, up 19 points.
The corn market closed with losses of around 6-8 cents. Spillover weakness from wheat may have been an influence. So too may have been the Rosario Grain Exchange raising their forecast for the 2013/14 Argentine corn crop from 23 MMT to 23.9 MMT. They also said however that late season rains means that currently only 30% of the corn crop is harvested versus 60% a year ago. The Energy Dept put weekly US ethanol production at 922,000 barrels/day, up from last week’s 894,000 bpd, but still below the level needed to hit USDA targets.
Goldman Sachs said that they expect corn prices to hit $4/bu in the next six months. A report on Dow Jones suggested that international traders will shy away from committing to long-term grain export contracts with Ukraine until the political uncertainty there looks closer to being resolved. A Reuters survey pegged Ukraine's 2014 corn crop at an average guess of 25 MMT versus last year's record 30.9 MMT. Ukraine's Ministry said that the country has exported a record 30.4 MMT of grains so far this season, of which corn accounts for 19.1 MMT.
The French Farm Ministry estimated corn plantings there in 2014 at just shy of 1.8 million ha, a near 5% drop on last year, but more than 3% above the 5-year average. Parana, Brazil’s largest corn state, is expecting a favourable winter corn harvest, say Martell Crop Projections. "Rainfall has been abundant in western Parana, where winter corn is heavily cultivated. Cool temperatures have further enhanced yield potential. Neighbouring winter corn states Mato Grosso do Sul and Goias have also benefited from wet, cool growing conditions, verified by remote sensing. Crop vegetation health mid May is significantly above-average," they added.
Trade estimates for tomorrow's weekly export sales report for corn are around 200-400,000 MT of old crop and 150-300,000 MT of new crop. Informa are due to issue their latest thoughts on US corn plantings tomorrow. Last month's estimate was 93.029 million acres versus the USDA's March estimate of 91.7 million. May 14 Corn closed at $4.94 3/4, down 8 1/2 cents; Jul 14 Corn closed at $4.95 1/2, down 7 1/4 cents.
The wheat market fell for a sixth day in a row. The US market continues to give the impression that the premiums built in for the problems with winter wheat on the Plains, and Ukraine tensions, have been overdone. There were 100 deliveries against the expiring Chicago May 14 contract, bringing the net total to 1,432 lots. That doesn't suggest a shortage of wheat.
It also indicates a lack of cash demand at current levels. Fund money's relatively newly found enthusiasm to own wheat when the cash market doesn't seem to want it is being tested. The futures market has essentially got ahead of itself. Funds were estimated as being net sellers of around 5,000 CBOT wheat contracts on the day. Some parts of Kansas, Texas and Oklahoma picked up some decent rain overnight, although drought there still persists. There's some talk however that losses in these states will at least partially be compensated for by yield gains elsewhere, like in Colorado and Nebraska. Strong warming is in the forecast for the upper Midwest, the PNW and even finally Canada. That should enable good progress to be made with spring wheat planting, and also be of benefit to winter sown crops. The Canadian Wheat Board said that Western Canada's crop planting was only 6% complete as of Monday, versus 10% done a year ago and 25% on average.
As last year proved though, late plantings don't necessarily mean poor yields. Saskatchewan crop planting is 10% complete, which is close to the average. Also, as we've seen with US corn planting this past week, things can quickly catch up once weather turns conducive thanks to modern technology. Meanwhile the wheat crop in Europe is generally looking good, it is also well advanced after a mild winter. French soft wheat, barley and corn 2013/14 ending stocks are all forecast higher than 12 months ago. Goldman Sachs said that it expects wheat prices to fall 18% in the next 6 months. Trade estimates for tomorrow's weekly export sales report are around 100-300,000 MT of old crop and 150-300,000 MT of new crop. Informa are due to revise their estimate of a US all wheat area of 56.648 million acres versus a USDA March estimate of 55.8 million tomorrow. May 14 CBOT Wheat closed at $6.81, down 19 cents; May 14 KCBT Wheat closed at $8.07 1/2, down 16 3/4 cents; May 14 MGEX Wheat closed at $7.81, down 9 cents.
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