30 May 2015 | Online since 2003

Wheat market jumps following Ukraine news


News broke in late afternoon trade (London time) that a Malaysian passenger plane en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur had apparently been shot down over eastern Ukraine, possibly by pro-Russian separatists.

That provided some volatility and prompted some short-covering with wheat the main beneficiary, just as it was when Russia seized Crimea. Chicago wheat quickly put on 30% back then, only to subsequently give up all those gains and more besides as the situation calmed. I find it difficult to believe that these latest developments will prove to be the catalyst that finally turned the wheat market around, but we shall see.


Beans closed lower despite the news out of Ukraine, setting a new 2 1/2 year low. Weekly export sales came in at 37,700 MT of old crop and 561,000 MT of new crop - the latter being primarily for China (365,000 MT) and unknown destinations (149,500 MT). Separately the USDA announced 708,000 MT of new crop US beans sold to China under the daily reporting system. South Korea's MFG bought 110,000 -120,000 MT of US or South American soymeal for Dec-Jan shipment. South Korea's NOFI bought 55,000 MT of South American meal for Nov shipment.

Lanworth forecast the US soybean crop at 99.8 MMT versus the USDA's 103.4 MMT, although still sharply higher (+11.5%) than 89.5 MMT a year ago. A strike at the leading Argentine grain export hub of Rosario has entered its second day. Reuters are reporting that truck drivers there have voted for a national strike starting Jul 21. The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange said that the Argentine 2013/14 soybean harvest is 99.2% complete at 55.3 MMT, forecasting final production at a record 55.5 MMT. The Argentine Ag Min estimated the 2013/14 bean crop somewhat lower at 53.0 MMT versus a previous estimate of 54.0 MMT. Persistent wetness has been Argentina's problem this year, delaying the harvest, but also casting a cloud over the quality and oil content of their 2013/14 soybean crop. Aug 14 Soybeans closed at $11.74 3/4, down 12 1/2 cents; Nov 14 Soybeans closed at $10.94, down 8 cents; Aug 14 Soybean Meal closed at $380.50, down $3.20; Aug 14 Soybean Oil closed at 36.37, down 46 points.


The corn market closed with token gains. Weekly export sales were good at 573,700 MT of old crop and 495,000 MT of new crop. The Commodity Weather Group (CWG), a US weather forecasting firm, estimated the 2014 US corn yield at 171 bu/acre versus 165.3 bu/acre from the USDA. CWG forecast record average corn yields in Illinois (190.1 bu/acre versus the previous record of 180.0 bu/acre set in 2004) and Iowa (184.1 bu/acre versus the previous record high of 182.0 bu/acre set in 2009.

Allendale estimated US 2014 corn yields at a more conservative 167.8 bu/acre. Lanworth estimated the US corn crop at a record 370 MMT this year, well above the USDA's current 352.1 MMT forecast and 4.6% up on last year's 353.7 MMT output. MDA CropCast raised their forecast for US corn production this year by 3.2 MMT from last week to 357.4 MMT "due to favourable conditions." Strategie Grains estimated the EU-28 2014/15 corn crop at 66.4 MMT versus a previous estimate of 65.9 MMT. They also said that a lower proportion of this year's EU wheat crop would make milling grade than last year. Reports of the very early wheat harvest in France appear to confirm that this is likely. With a higher overall wheat crop expected in Europe, this potentially means a lot more feed wheat kicking around this year, which will be in direct competition to corn in feed rations. Argentina's Ag Ministry estimated their 2013/14 corn crop at 33.0 MMT versus 32.1 MMT previously. The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange say that the Argentine corn crop is 65.4% harvested and forecast production at only 25 MMT. Sep 14 Corn closed at $3.79 1/2, up 1 1/4 cents; Dec 14 Corn closed at $3.87 1/4, up 1/2 cent.


The wheat market opened lower but jumped higher immediately following the news out of Ukraine, and managed to hold onto most of those gains by the close. Weekly US export sales came in at an unimpressive 320,700 MT, although interestingly there was a 60,000 MT sale in there to China. Japan bought 112,709 tons of milling wheat for Aug–Sep shipment, most of which was US origin. Turkey bought 235,000 MT of optional origin milling wheat and 200,000 MT of feed barley for Aug-Oct shipment, with the Black Sea the most likely provider.

Israel bought 50,000 MT of Black Sea feed wheat. There's talk of better than expected HRW yields in Nebraska, South Dakota and parts of Colorado. Nevertheless, MDA CropCast cut their US all wheat production forecast by 0.9 MMT from last week to 55.6 MMT due to acreage reductions and earlier dryness. They raised their estimates for Russia (+0.6 MMT), Europe (+0.4 MMT), Ukraine and Australia (both +0.2 MMT) however. Strategie Grains estimated EU-28 soft wheat crop at 140.5 MMT versus previous estimate of 139.50 MMT. They see EU-28 durum wheat output down 0.7 MMT from last month to 7.2 MMT. The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange say that Argentine farmers will plant 4.2 million hectares of wheat for the 2014/15 harvest, that's down 100,000 ha from their original estimate due to persistent rains. That figure still represents a 16% increase on 3.62 million ha a year ago however. Sep 14 CBOT Wheat closed at $5.50 3/4, up 12 3/4 cents; Sep 14 KCBT Wheat closed at $6.49, up 11 3/4 cents; Sep 14 MGEX Wheat closed at $6.37, up 9 cents.



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