US weather concerns and Ukraine tensions lift wheat prices
Beans closed slightly lower on continued talk of Chinese crushers selling South American purchases to the US and also cancelling/deferring some shipments. As well as China already having more than ample stocks, there are also some reports of problems in obtaining letters of credit. Weekly export sales for beans came in at just 11,900 MT of old crop and 534,900 MT of new crop. The trade was expecting old crop sales of around 100-250 TMT and new crop sales of 300-500 TMT. Actual shipments this past week totalled 729 TMT, bringing the marketing year to date total to 39.84 MMT, which is almost 96% of the USDA forecast for the season.
Total commitments, including unshipped sales, remain at 107% of the USDA's forecast. Argentina's Feb soybean crush was reported as 1.529 MMT versus 1.965 MMT in January and 1.212 MMT in Feb 2013. The International Grains Council cut 2 MMT off their world soybean production estimate for 2013/14, but also trimmed consumption by a similar amount, leaving ending stocks unchanged at 27 MMT.
"The forecast for global soyabean output in 2013/14 is lowered this month, but is still seen rising by 4% year on year to an all-time high. A 4% expansion in 2013/14 end-season stocks is expected (versus 2012/13), but availabilities are less ample than initially anticipated; trade is seen up 11% year on year, almost entirely due to strong China demand. Following a record crop in 2013/14, global rapeseed/canola output is tentatively projected down 3% in 2014/15 as yields retreat, but it would still be the second highest crop ever," they said. They cut their forecast for the Brazilian soybean crop from 88 MMT to 85.6 MMT, but raised Argentina from 53.5 MMT to 54 MMT. China's 2013/14 import requirement was left unchanged at 68.5 MMT. May 14 Soybeans closed at $14.36 1/2, down 3 1/2 cents; Jul 14 Soybeans closed at $14.07, down 3 cents; May 14 Soybean Meal closed at $470.50, up $1.40; May 14 Soybean Oil closed at 40.43, down 30 points.
The corn market posted decent gains of between 4-7 cents, aided by strong weekly export sales. These came in at 1.4 MMT of old crop versus the expected 525-725 TMT. There was also a couple of small sales for 2014/15 totalling 28,400 MT. Exports of 1,230,000 MT were up 33 percent from the previous week and 29 percent from the prior 4-week average. Total sales commitments are now around 98% of the USDA's target for the season, although almost 19 MMT of that total remains unshipped. Could this be partly due to "insurance" purchases from the US just in case anything goes wrong with availability out of the Black Sea? This week's largest buyer was Egypt booking 431,100 MT.
The USDA attaché in Brazil estimated their 2013/14 corn crop at 72.0 MMT versus only 72 MMT from the USDA themselves. They also estimated the Brazilian 2014/15 corn crop at 71.0 MMT. The IGC held their world 2013/14 corn production estimate unchanged at 959 MMT, and forecast output in 2014/15 rising to a new all time high of 961 MMT. "A bumper crop in 2013/14 should allow for some stock building, with a sharp rise in supplies more than offsetting strong gains in use. Strong demand growth is also expected, but, led by a steep increase in the US, world closing stocks are forecast to expand again in 2014/15, potentially to the highest level in 15 years," they said.
They estimated the Brazilian corn crop at 69 MMT this year, with Argentina's at 24 MMT. Chinese imports were placed at 5 MMT. "The potential impact of political tensions in the Black Sea region remains uncertain, but with Russia and Ukraine significant exporters of wheat, and Ukraine the third leading supplier of corn to world markets, both prices and volatility have risen," they added. May 14 Corn closed at $4.92, up 7 1/2 cents; Jul 14 Corn closed at $4.96 1/4, up 7 cents.
The wheat market also managed some decent gains as weekly export sales beat expectations. These came in at 400,500 MT of old crop and 327,500 MT of new crop versus the expected 325-475 TMT and 50-250 TMT respectively. Shipments of 530,400 MT were up 21 percent from the previous week and 2 percent from the prior 4-week average. The US has now shipped 24.46 MMT of wheat this season, with a further 5.46 MMT of outstanding sales. That gives net commitments of 95% of the USDA's target for the season, although note that the wheat marketing year ends in May so it's finish is a lot closer that it is for corn or soybeans which run through to August.
The IGC raised their world 2013/14 wheat production estimate by 1 MMT from last month to a new record 709 MMT. Despite ample nearby supplies and generally favourable crop prospects, US weather concerns and political tensions in the Black Sea region have lifted wheat prices in the past month, they noted. "World stocks are seen up 17 MMT by the end of 2013/14, and trade is raised by 4 MMT this month, to a record 150 MMT, with stronger than expected demand in Near East Asia and Africa. Projected 2014/15 global production has been lifted by 4 MMT, to 700 MMT, but this would still be slightly lower year on year," they said. Some of the driest winter wheat areas of Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas picked up fair rains overnight.
"By and large, rainfall that occurred in hard red winter wheat was heavier than predicted," said Martell Crop Projections. MDA CropCast raised their forecast for the US 2014 all wheat crop by 1.6 MMT from last week to 59 MMT citing increased yield expectations for spring wheat. Jordan cancelled a tender to import 100 TMT of optional origin barley for June-July shipment. Tunisia is tendering for 50 TMT of milling wheat and 25 TMT of feed barley, both of optional origin for April–May shipment. May 14 CBOT Wheat closed at $7.10 1/2, up 13 3/4 cents; May 14 KCBT Wheat closed at $7.83 3/4, up 12 1/2 cents; May 14 MGEX Wheat closed at $7.54 1/4, up 7 1/2 cents.
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