Wheat market 'took nosedive' over Ukraine tensions
Beans closed lower, in line with losses across the rest of the complex. News that Barclays was pulling out of commodities trading was seen as broadly bearish, especially coming at a time when fund money holds a very large speculative long in soybeans and corn. "Funds are insanely long and if we break much more I see them moving to a liquidation mode," one market analyst commented. "There is a lot of room on the downside if we get normal weather the next couple of months," he warned. Will we get "normal" weather? An El Nino year, if we are in for one as many are suggesting, would typically bring good Midwest rains and relatively benign temperatures.
That, coupled with expectations of record large soybean plantings in the US this spring, could indeed leave the market vulnerable to a significant downside, especially given the very hefty long that the funds currently hold. The USDA released their second weekly crop progress report of the year. That has soybeans plantings in Louisiana at 33% done versus 19% a year ago and 26% on average. Mississippi is at 14% sown versus 7% a year ago and 26% on average. Texas is 21% done versus 43% a year ago and 52% on average. Arkansas is 7% complete versus 4% a year ago and 13% on average. Alabama is 3% planted versus 1% a year ago and 2% on average. Safras e Mercado said on Friday that Brazil's soybean harvest is 90% complete versus 86% a year ago. Weekly US export inspections for soybeans came in at 270.5 TMT, taking the marketing year to date total to 41.8 MMT. That's over 97% of the USDA's projection for a season with more than 4 months still left to run. May 14 Soybeans closed at $14.99 1/4, down 14 3/4 cents; Jul 14 Soybeans closed at $14.88 1/2, down 13 3/4 cents; May 14 Soybean Meal closed at $485.90, down $2.40; May 14 Soybean Oil closed at 43.06, down 35 points.
The corn market ended around 6 to 7 cents lower on the day in what looked like general consolidation. Weekly export inspections came in at a strong 1.6 MMT, taking the 2013/14 total so far to 26.8 MMT, which is just under 60% of the USDA's forecast for the season. The USDA reported US corn planting at 6% complete, up from 3% done a week ago, and versus 4% this time last year. The 5-year average is 14%, so things are still behind normal. The weather outlook is improving though. "Strong warming developed on Easter Sunday with widespread 70s F in the Midwest.
Fine sunny mild conditions are expected to a continue a few more days. However, a sharp cold wave is predicted Thursday-Friday, dropping Midwest temperatures 12-15 F below average. Maximum temperatures Friday would be high 40s F in the northern corn belt to 60s F south. Midwest rainfall has picked up in March and April with bouts of very heavy rain. Soaking rains last week developed in a wide swath of the corn belt from eastern Nebraska to Wisconsin, and including Iowa, western Missouri and southeast Minnesota. Partially frozen fields means there was run-off, but overall drenching rains were beneficial, improving soil moisture for corn planting. Stormy weather l is expected again this week in the Midwest favouring corn farms west of the Mississippi River for the heaviest rainfall. Lighter amounts of rain, .25 – 50 inch, are predicted in eastern Illinois, Indiana and Ohio," said Martell Crop Projections. On Friday, Safras e Mercado estimated Brazil’s 2nd corn crop at 42.25 MMT versus 45.2 MMT a year ago. May 14 Corn closed at $4.88 1/2, down 6 1/4 cents; Jul 14 Corn closed at $4.93 3/4, down 6 3/4 cents.
The wheat market took a nosedive, possibly linked to an easing of tensions between Russia and Ukraine/the West over the weekend. Wheat's recent meteoric rise appears to have been directly linked to the evolving situation between the two big Black Sea exporting nations, despite the fact that very little spring wheat is sown in Ukraine. Deteriorating US winter wheat crop conditions have also been supportive to the market in recent weeks. The USDA today reported US winter wheat at 34% good/excellent, which is unchanged on a week ago and 1 point lower than this time last year. The top producing state of Kansas is only 24% good/excellent, and 32% poor/very poor.
Oklahoma is even worse, with zero excellent, 11% good and 61% poor/very poor. There are prospects for rain however. "The subtropical jet stream is expected to deliver a strong wave of showers to Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas late in the period Sunday-Monday, April 27-28. Kansas wheat is also expecting rain Wednesday, when a strong short-wave disturbance tracks through the central Great Plains into the Upper Midwest," said Martell Crop Projections.
The USDA said that 9% of winter wheat is headed versus 7% a year ago and 17% on average at this time. Spring wheat planting meanwhile if 10% complete versus 7% a year ago 19% for the 5-year average. Weekly export inspections came in at 495 TMT versus 712 TMT the previous week. May 14 CBOT Wheat closed at $6.68 1/4, down 23 cents; May 14 KCBT Wheat closed at $7.34 1/2, down 23 1/2 cents; May 14 MGEX Wheat closed at $7.14, down 18 3/4 cents.
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