21-02-2014 10:38 AM | Arable, Cereal, Crops, Market Reports, News

US corn plantings 'towards the bottom end of trade estimates'



Soycomplex

Beans closed higher, despite the USDA's Outlook Forum pegging the 2014 US soybean area at 79.5 million acres, 3 million up on last year and 1.5 million above last week's baseline projections. If anything though, many in the trade were talking of soybean plantings coming in even higher at 80 million acres or even more. The USDA also forecast US soybean prices averaging $9.65/bushel in 2014/15 versus a 2013/14 average price of $12.70/bushel.


The very strong US export pace, backed up by Tuesday's 1.5 MMT of weekly export inspections and the lack of the widely anticipated wholesale Chinese cancellations is supportive. Cumulative 2013/14 US soybean exports to date are 33 MMT (versus 28.2 MMT a year ago), or 80.5% of the USDA's target for the season. With a further 10.1 MMT sold and ready to go we have total US soybean commitments of 43.1 MMT versus a USDA export forecast for the season of only 41 MMT.

Brazil's 2013/14 soybean production potential is being trimmed, with most analysts now in the 88-90 MMT region, although Oil World today cut their outlook from 89.5 MMT to only 85 MMT. MDA CropCast cut their Argentine soybean production estimate by 730 TMT to 54.39 MMT citing current wetness and earlier heat. Trade estimates for tomorrow's weekly soybean export sales report are around 200-500 TMT for both marketing years. Old crop sales have been expected to come in negative, but failed to do so, for the past couple of weeks. Will tomorrow be the day? Mar 14 Soybeans closed at $13.58 1/4, up 4 cents; May 14 Soybeans closed at $13.47 3/4, up 5 3/4 cents; Mar 14 Soybean Meal closed at $450.90, down $2.10; Mar 14 Soybean Oil closed at 40.57, up 33 points.

Corn

The corn market closed around a couple of cents firmer, with the Mar 14 contract posting it's best close since October. The USDA's Outlook Forum pegged 2014 US corn plantings at 92 million acres, towards the bottom end of trade estimates, 1.5 million below last week's baseline projection, and 3.6% down on last year's 95.4 million.


They also forecast US corn prices in 2014/15 only averaging $3.90/bushel versus $4.50/bushel this season. The weekly US ethanol grind came in at 903k barrels/day, up 1,000 bpd on last week but below the circa 930k bpd needed to hit the USDA's target for the season. The political crisis in Ukraine is seen as possibly improving demand for US corn, although there's no evidence yet that it has thus far had a negative impact on grain exports from the country.

Japanese customs data showed that Japan imported 2.24 MMT of grain in January, up 4.2% from a year ago, including 1.093 MMT from the US - up 24.1% from a year ago. The Japanese Ministry reported that corn usage in feed in December was 45.2% versus 44.4% in November and 42.7% in December 2012. Lower world corn prices seem to be encouraging increased demand. Analysts said India’s poultry feed demand expected to increase by 9% in 2014. The Poultry Federation of India said corn feed demand from the sector is estimated at 750-800 TMT/month. Trade estimates for tomorrow's weekly export sales for corn are around 800 TMT to 1.2 MMT. Mar 14 Corn closed at $4.55 3/4, up 2 cents; May 14 Corn closed at $4.62 1/4, up 2 cents.

Wheat

The wheat market around 1-4 cents lower across the three exchanges. The USDA's Outlook Forum estimated US all wheat plantings for the 2014 harvest at 55.5 million acres versus 56.2 million last year and 57 million in last week's baseline projections. They forecast the average wheat price in 2014/15 at $5.30/bushel versus $6.80/bushel this season.


"Prices for most row crops are expected to fall to the lowest levels since 2009/10," said Joseph Glauber, the USDA's chief economist. China sold 413 TMT of the 600 TMT of wheat it offered up at auction. They've gone quiet on buying wheat on the international market of late, but there's talk that they could be back in the market soon for May/Jul cargoes. Egypt have also gone quiet. They say that they now have enough wheat bought to last until June.

Weekly export sales tomorrow are expected to be quite robust at around 500-700 TMT. It seems possible that US wheat demand might be getting a boost from Canadian logistical issues. European exports meanwhile press on unabated, with Brussels issuing 756 TMT worth of soft wheat export licences this week. That takes the marketing year total to 19.3 MMT versus only 12.7 MMT this time last year. The problems in Ukraine may further boost EU wheat exports it is thought. Mar 14 CBOT Wheat closed at $6.16 1/4, down 4 cents; Mar 14 KCBT Wheat closed at $6.91 3/4, down 3/4 cent; Mar 14 MGEX Wheat closed at $6.81 3/4, down 2 1/4 cents.

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