Chicago Closing Comments - Wednesday Night

22/10/14 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed with small losses, despite the USDA reporting the sale of 419 TMT of US soybeans to China, along with 113 TMT to unknown destinations. Talk of meal sales being switched to cheaper South American origin material was bearish. Chinese customs data puts September bean imports at just over 5 MMT, a 7% rise on a year ago. Of that total 3.4 MMT came from Brazil, 980 TMT from Argentina and nothing from the US. They also imported 495 TMT of rapeseed, more than double the volume shipped in in September 2013. Oil World cut 3 MMT off it's Brazilian 2014/15 soybean production estimate to 89 MMT, although that's still a record it's not the huge leap that many had been expecting. Rains are finally on the way for Mato Grosso it would seem. "Mato Grosso is expected to receive very heavy rainfall later this week, 2-4 inches, with a strengthening monsoon circulation. This would be first important rainfall in October. Scattered showers are expected tomorrow in the leading soybean state. Without any significant rainfall, October temperatures have become very hot, Mato Grosso’s Center West area frequently reporting 40 C. Occasionally temperatures have reached 42 C (107 F). Once the rainy season begins in earnest, temperatures would moderate with increased cloudiness and evaporative cooling," said Martell Crop Projections. Trade estimates for tomorrow's weekly export sales report for beans are around 1 MMT. Nov 14 Soybeans closed at $9.62 3/4, down 1 1/2 cents; Jan 15 Soybeans closed at $9.69 3/4, down 2 cents; Dec 14 Soybean Meal closed at $338.00, down $4.90; Dec 14 Soybean Oil closed at 32.14, up 38 points.

Corn: The corn market slipped 2-3 cents lower on a general lack of news. Weekly US ethanol production rose to 896,000 barrels/day from 885,000 barrels/day the previous week. Russia's corn harvest is said to be 73.6% done at 8.9 MMT, with yields at 4.56 MT/ha versus 5.29 MT/ha a year ago. Taiwan's MFIG bought 60,000 MT of Brazilian corn for December shipment. Chinese customs data shows that they only imported a little over 20 TMT of corn in September. Jan-Sep imports now stand at 1.6 MMT, around the same as a year previously. There's talk of China looking to buy 40 MMT of corn on the domestic market for state stocks. US weather forecasts are mostly dry for the next week, which should allow good harvest progress to be made. "Following hot temps and heavy winds light rains in the western belt overnight and into today aren’t going to cause many delays. Look for favourable temps over much of the corn belt. The potentially wetter conditions are advertised in the second week of the forecast," said Benson Quinn Commodities. Full season corn planting in Brazil should resume if and when the advertised delayed start to the rainy season arrives in the next few days. There's already talk though that delays in planting soybeans will lead to a reduction in second crop corn. Trade estimates for tomorrow's weekly export sales report are around 650-800 TMT. Dec 14 Corn closed at $3.53, down 3 cents; Mar 15 Corn closed at $3.67, down 2 1/2 cents.

Wheat: The wheat market closed mixed. There's talk of Argentina releasing an extra 400 TMT of old crop and 1 MMT of new crop wheat export licences. Much of that will probably end up in Brazil. Russia's wheat harvest has reached 94% complete at 60.9 MMT. Siberia is 92% done and there's talk that it may not get much higher than that with snow already falling there. There's also a suggestion that some crops in Kazakhstan will go unharvested this year with the sudden arrival of winter. The harvest there is said to be 86.4% done at 15.9 MMT on 13 million hectares. A harsh cold snap is on the cards for Russia this weekend. There are already rumblings that winter crops in Russia are poorly established and that leaves them vulnerable to higher than normal levels of winterkill. It's being suggested that current conditions in Russia are similar to late 2009. Wheat production in the summer of 2010 went on to be only 41.5 MMT on the back of a hard winter followed by a late spring/early summer drought and soaring temperatures. That event sent global wheat prices soaring you will recall. Adverse weather conditions are also having an effect on the Australian wheat crop this year, with some forecasting production as low as 20-21 MMT. China imported 133,647 MT of wheat in September, an 81% fall versus a year previously. Jan-Sep imports are just over 2.8 MMT, which is similar to the same period in 2013. Trade estimates for tomorrow's weekly export sales report are around 400-500 TMT. Dec 14 CBOT Wheat closed at $5.22 1/4, up 3 cents; Dec 14 KCBT Wheat closed at $6.05 1/4, up 3 cents; Dec 14 MGEX Wheat closed at $5.68 3/4, down 1/4 cent.

London And Paris Wheat At Six Week Highs

22/10/14 -- EU grains finished higher across the board, with both London and Paris wheat managing their best closes in 6 weeks. However "although particular factors are lending support to prices, markets are very unlikely to see a significant rally," said the HGCA.

The day ended with Nov 14 London wheat up GBP2.50/tonne to GBP119.00/tonne, Nov 14 Paris wheat ended EUR3.75/tonne firmer at EUR167.75/tonne, Nov 14 Paris corn rose EUR0.50/tonne to EUR143.00/tonne, whilst Nov 14 Paris rapeseed was EUR3.00/tonne higher at EUR323.25/tonne.

The spread between Nov 14 and Jan 15 Paris wheat narrowed for a third day as more nearby shorts are squeezed out. Even so, the open interest in the front month is still large given that contract expiry is only 2 1/2 weeks away.

A partial success for France in last night's Egyptian tender was supportive, even if they did have to share the business with Russia and Romania.

It also confirms that the latter two origins still have wheat to sell, even if they were priced well over the winning French origin bid. That was at least $10/tonne under the other remaining FOB quotes out of France, and the different between those and the successful Black Sea quotes were much closer.

Rosstat said that Russia had exported 16.8 MMT of grain in the Jan-Sep period, almost double the volume shipped out twelve months previously. Wheat accounts for 12.6 MMT of that total, with corn adding a further 2.4 MMT and barley an extra 1.5 MMT.

Rusagrotrans forecast the Russian winter grains planted area at 16.3 million hectares, up more than 7% on last year. They said that this would be similar to the area planted for the 2008 record harvest, although obviously there's a long way to go yet.

Nevertheless, they became the first analyst to dip their toe in the water of 2015, issuing a preliminary grain production estimate for next year of 96-104 MMT.

A sharp cold snap is now in the forecast for Russia (and Ukraine) this week. There's some chatter that although the winter crop has been sown in a timely manner, development has been retarded due to lack of moisture. That's only arrived in the past week, leaving the crop little time to develop before these freezing temperatures come along.

That could have a negative impact on production next year, although it's far to early to see this as a significantly bullish factor at the moment, it warrants keeping an eye on.

The Ukraine wheat crop in 2014 totalled 23.7 MMT, say the Ag Ministry there, a 6.3% rise compared to last year. They say that the proportion of the crop suitable for milling is only 54% versus 75% a year ago.

They see wheat exports in 2014/15 at 11.76 MMT, a 28% rise year-on-year.

Agritel say that the Ukraine corn harvest is progressing quickly and has now reached 15.4 MMT. A crop of 27 MMT is expected this year, according to the Ukrainian Agrarian Confederation.

Chicago Rises On Harvest Delays

21/10/14 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed sharply higher on disappointment that the US harvest had only advanced 13 points in the past week to 53% complete as of Sunday night. The weather forecast for the week ahead has now developed a wetter look to it, which was also seen as a bullish factor today. "The weather forecast is warming. The US heartland would experience temperatures that would be 7-12 F above normal. This would indicate mid to upper 60s F for highs and mid-upper 40s F for lows. On the negative side, significant rainfall is predicted that would further disrupt harvesting in a wide swath of the farm belt. Heavy soaking rain would target Missouri, Iowa and Wisconsin, up to 1 – 1.25 inches, but locally more. Moderate rainfall 0.50 to 0.75 inch is predicted in northeast Nebraska, southern Minnesota and western Iowa," said Martell Crop Projections. Yesterday's strong weekly export inspections also lean friendly. So too is soybean plantings in Brazil running at the slowest pace in 6 years. It now looks unlikely that they will be active in the new crop export market until February. Nov 14 Soybeans closed at $9.64 1/4, up 20 cents; Jan 15 Soybeans closed at $9.71 3/4, up 19 1/2 cents; Dec 14 Soybean Meal closed at $342.90, up $13.50; Dec 14 Soybean Oil closed at 31.76, up 6 points.

Corn: The corn market closed around 7-8 cents higher. The same weather problems that are plaguing the US soybean harvest are also leaning supportive for corn. That harvest is even further behind than it is for beans. "Just 31% of corn was harvested up to October 19 compared to a 55% average the past 28 years. Northern Midwest corn has been slow to mature, contributing to harvesting delays. Corn was only 75% ripe in Wisconsin and Michigan in USDA’s most recent crop progress report," said Martell Crop Projections. The lack of progress in Brazil with soybean plantings could have a knock-on, and negative, effect with the size of the safrinha corn crop for 2015 some are saying. Russia said that it had harvested 8.8 MMT of corn off 73% of the planned area. Yields are down at 4.56 MT/ha compared to 5.29 MT/ha a year ago. APK Inform lowered their estimate for this year's Russian corn crop by 5.6% to 11.7 MMT. The Ukraine Ministry reported that the corn harvest there was 60% done on 2.8 million hectares, producing a crop of 14.77 MMT to date. The Ukrainian Agrarian Confederation estimated corn production there at 27 MMT versus 30.9 MMT a year ago. Fund buying was estimated at a net 8,000 lots in Chicago today. Dec 14 Corn closed at $3.56, up 7 3/4 cents; Mar 15 Corn closed at $3.69 1/2, up 7 3/4 cents.

Wheat: The wheat market closed firmer, but well off session highs. Egypt's GASC bought one cargo each of French, Russian and Romanian wheat. The French offer booked was easily the cheapest at $234.44/tonne FOB. It was noted however that this appeared to be a "one off" particularly aggressive offer, as the next cheapest French material was $10/tonne higher than this. At the end of the day however one 60 TMT cargo of wheat isn't going to make much of a hole in the full up French futures stores in Rouen. Russia said that it had now harvested 94% of its 2014 wheat crop, producing 60.9 MMT in bunker weight so far. Rusagrotrans trimmed their forecast for the 2014 Russian grain harvest from 104 MMT to 103.7 MMT in clean weight due to "extreme weather conditions in the eastern regions" saying that bad weather in the Urals will lead to significant yield losses there. Plantings for the 2015 harvest in Russia are 98% done, according to the Ag Ministry. Rusagrotrans forecast the final winter planted area at 16.3 million hectares versus only 15.2 million a year ago when adverse weather prevented some fields from getting sown until the spring. Crop conditions there currently don't look great, I hear. Things are better in Ukraine though, where winter wheat planting is 96% complete. Dec 14 CBOT Wheat closed at $5.19 1/4, up 5 3/4 cents; Dec 14 KCBT Wheat closed at $6.02 1/4, up 1 1/4 cents; Dec 14 MGEX Wheat closed at $5.69, up 2 1/4 cents.

EU Grains Higher, Front Month Paris Wheat Getting Technical

21/10/14 -- EU grains closed higher. Nov 14 Paris wheat again posted better gains than the deferred contracts, as seemingly more shorts get squeezed out. The Nov 14/Jan 15 differential was EUR4.50/tonne on Friday when the increased front month margin calls were announced, and tonight that's narrowed to EUR2.75/tonne.

Certainly there will be some shorts on the Nov 14 London contract intending to delivery against it, as thankfully we have more than a just couple of futures stores here in the UK!

Nov 14 London wheat finished up GBP1.00/tonne at GBP116.50/tonne, Nov 14 Paris wheat was up EUR4.25/tonne at EUR164.00/tonne, Nov 14 Paris corn was EUR1.50/tonne higher at EUR142.50/tonne and Nov 14 Paris rapeseed rose EUR2.50/tonne to EUR320.25/tonne.

Yet again fresh news was relatively hard to find. The USDA reported late last night that the US 2014 corn and soybean harvests weren't as advanced as many had expected at 31% and 53% done respectively. The forecast for the week ahead is conducive to some decent progress being made between now and next Monday's report however. There's already talk of some US farmers considering leaving their corn in the field over winter, given current low prices.

UK farmers have been a bit more active in selling wheat following the recent rally from 4 year lows. "If you want wheat, you can get it," one trader told me today. The question is "who wants it?"

The sharp rebound in wheat production this year means that the UK is presented with a bit of a dilemma. Domestic demand is only so so at the moment, certainly from the feed manufacturer's perspective. Lower milk and beef prices and an assortment of cheap alternatives have seen to that. There's also an abundance of on farm fodder stocks for later in the winter.

"There’s only so much that can be absorbed by domestic demand, and a strong export programme for wheat and barley will be needed to avoid a large carryover into 2015/16," say the HGCA.

Make that a very large carryover, as of the anticipated 3.3 MMT surplus left over for export or to be carried into next season, only 142 TMT had actually been shipped abroad by the end of August (the most recent figures available).

Whilst an increase in demand from the bioethanol sector is widely anticipated in 2014/15 (up 7% according to Defra), that's only part of the story. "When it comes to bioethanol gross margins, there’s another side of the coin that needs to be considered. Ethanol prices have also been in decline as global demand has been unable to keep up with supply," the HGCA note.

Demand, or the lack of it, for the DDGS produced by these plants is also another factor to consider. This is also an industry that's been habitually plagued by operational disruptions in its relatively short history, so continuing to run at anything like "full steam ahead" for the entire season might also prove to be a challenge.

In other news, the Ukraine Ministry reported that the corn harvest there was 60% done on 2.8 million hectares, producing a crop of 14.77 MMT to date. Yields are averaging 5.28 MT/ha, if they continue to do so then they'll end up with a crop of 24.6 MMT, which would be 20% down on last year's record 30.9 MMT (using the USDA's estimate for production in 2013).

The Ukrainian Agrarian Confederation estimated corn production there at 27 MMT today.

Ukraine has also harvested 9.16 MMT of sunflower off 94% of the planned area, along with 3.19 MMT of soybeans, off 87% of the expected area.

Winter grain plantings are nearing completion in Ukraine at 92% done on 6.9 million hectares. Wheat accounts for the vast majority of that at 96% done on 5.9 million ha, with barley adding a further 779k ha (73% of plan).

APK Inform lowered their estimate for this year's Russian corn crop by 5.6% to 11.7 MMT, although that's still just about a record crop, as it's slightly ahead of last year's production of 11.6 MMT.

The Russian Ministry said that this year's corn harvest was now almost 73% done, producing a crop of 8.8 MMT so far. Yields are averaging 4.56 MT/ha so far versus 5.29 MT/ha a year ago. That suggests a final bunker weight crop of a little over 12 MMT this year.

Ag Canada estimated Canada’s 2014 wheat crop at 27.49 MMT versus previous estimate of 27.71 MMT, a drop of more than a third on last year's bin buster.

Chicago Grains End Lower, But Off Session Lows

20/10/14 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed lower, but towards the middle of the day's trading range. The USDA reported that the 2014 US soybean harvest was 53% done, up from 40% a week ago, but perhaps not as much progress has been made this week as the trade expected. The 5-year average for this time is 66% done. Crop condition ratings were unchanged from last week at 73% good to excellent. The forecast for the week ahead is largely friendly for decent progress to be made. Weekly export inspections were very strong at almost 2 MMT. Year to date inspections are now 123% of what they were a year ago. Growers in Brazil are still waiting for rain, particularly in the leading soybean producing state of Mato Grosso. AgRural said that plantings in Brazil are only 10% done, versus 19% a year ago and 20% for the 5-year average. That's the slowest pace in 6 years, they said. It is also only an advancement of 3 points on a week ago. It is also thought that some of what has been sown will fail and need to be replanted. Rains are finally on the way though. "Strong showers and heavy rainfall are predicted this week in Mato Grosso, Brazil’s largest soybean state. The rainy season in the tropics was slow to develop this month, but is predicted to kick into high gear as 1.5-2.5 inches of rain is projected in the next 5 days October 20-25," said Martell Crop Projections. Nov 14 Soybeans closed at $9.44 1/4, down 7 1/2 cents; Jan 15 Soybeans closed at $9.52 1/4, down 7 1/2 cents; Dec 14 Soybean Meal closed at $329.40, down $1.10; Dec 14 Soybean Oil closed at 31.70, down 32 points.

Corn: The corn market ended with small gains, and at the upper end of the daily trading range. US farmers appear to be concentrating on the soybean harvest, rather than that of corn. The USDA reported the 2014 US corn harvest at 31% complete, up only 7 points on a week ago and well behind the 5-year average of 53% done at this time. Crop conditions were left unchanged at 74% good to excellent. Maturity was up six points on last week at 93%, in line with the 5-year average of 94% at this time. The forecast for the week ahead is friendly. "Harvesting of corn and soybeans is expected to make excellent gains in the week ahead. While some rain is predicted it would occur in some of the driest areas of the Midwest, the Upper Midwest, while drying dominates elsewhere, allowing the harvest to advance," said Martell Crop Projections. "Many areas continue to report big yields, while there are a few areas reporting disappointment compared to expectations," said Benson Quinn Commodities. Weekly export inspections were a bit disappointing at 717,605 MT, down versus last week and this time a year ago. Dollar weakness today may have added a bit of support to the grains sector. Dec 14 Corn closed at $3.48 1/4, up 1/4 cent; Mar 15 Corn closed at $3.61 3/4, up 1/2 cent.

Wheat: The wheat market closed lower across the three exchanges. Weekly export inspections were ho hum at 481,878 MT. Cumulative wheat inspections are now only about two thirds of what they were a year ago. The USDA reported US winter wheat plantings at 76% complete, one point behind the 5-year average. Emergence is at 56%, six points ahead of the 5-year average, and up 13 points on a week ago. The Russian Ag Ministry reported the 2014 grain harvest there at 93.5% complete at 105.7 MMT. That includes 93.6% of the wheat area, producing a crop of 60.7 MMT in bunker weight so far. Plantings for the 2015 harvest are approaching 98% done on 16.1 million hectares. "Key winter wheat areas in southern Russia and Ukraine have received beneficial soaking rainfall in the past month, improving field moisture for winter wheat planting. The subsoil remains very dry, however. Summer drought was intense in South Russia's top winter wheat districts, depleting field moisture for wheat planting this fall. Pockets of Krasnodar and Stavropol received only 20% of normal summer rainfall. It would require 60-75 mm of rainfall to fully replenish soil moisture," said Martell Crop Projections. Egypt tendered for wheat for Nov 21-30 shipment late in the day. Dec 14 CBOT Wheat closed at $5.13 1/2, down 2 1/2 cents; Dec 14 KCBT Wheat closed at $6.01, down 3/4 cent; Dec 14 MGEX Wheat closed at $5.66 3/4, down 3 3/4 cents.

EU Grains Fall

20/10/14 -- EU grains ended the day lower, pressured by falling US futures levels in expectation that good progress has been made over the weekend with the US corn and soybean harvest. The weather forecast for the week ahead is also friendly.

A firmer sterling had London wheat under a bit of extra pressure. Across the Channel, Nov 14 didn't fare as badly as the more further forward Paris wheat contracts did. That might mean a few people are getting squeezed out by the increased, and unexpected, margin call requirements announced on Friday.

The day ended with Nov 14 London wheat down GBP0.95/tonne to GBP115.55/tonne, Nov 14 Paris wheat closed EUR0.25/tonne lower at EUR159.75/tonne, Nov 14 Paris corn was down EUR1.50/tonne to EUR141.00/tonne, whilst Nov 14 Paris rapeseed was EUR4.25/tonne easier at EUR317.75/tonne.

Fresh news to start the week was fairly scant, whilst the trade is expecting good harvest progress to have been made in the US over the weekend we won't have the USDA's actual take on things until tonight.

The Russian and Ukraine 2014 harvests, and winter plantings for 2015, aren't just winding down - they're entering the final furlong. The recent benign weather conditions are seen changing in the week ahead. "Some morning frost will be observed in the Moscow region tomorrow and should gradually reach Southern Russia and the Ukraine at the end of the week," said Agritel. "Under these conditions, the (winter) crops will have only limited time to profit from the humidity of the last weeks," they added.

Exports from the region remain strong. APK Inform reported that Ukraine seaports exported 689 TMT of grains in the past week, slightly more than the 684.4 TMT shipped out the week previously

Wheat accounted for 344.5 TMT of that total, with barley 132.1 TMT and corn 212.4 TMT. It is interesting to note that whilst the overall volume exported was little changed, corn had a much larger slice of the cake last week compared to the week prior. In percentage terms, wheat exports were 50% of the net volume shipped last week, down from 77% the previous week. Barley's share held steady at 19%, but corn accounted for 31% of last week's exports versus only 4% the week previously.

That would appear to indicate, as expected, that Ukraine's grain exports will soon start to major on newly harvested corn.

APK Inform also said that domestic consumption of grain in Ukraine will fall this season, leaving potentially more available for export. Wheat consumption will fall 2.7% to 12.9 MMT (compared to the official forecast of production this year at 24.55 MMT), barley consumption will increase 4% to 5.6 MMT and corn usage will drop 9% to 9.6 MMT, they estimated.

The reason for the decline in domestic wheat usage is the reduced quality of this year's crop leading to a decrease in flour production. UkrAgroConsult said last week that only 58% of this year's Ukraine wheat crop is up to milling standard versus 75% a year ago.

With the Ukraine Ministry steadfastly predicting a record grain crop for the second year in a row this year, all this potentially points to an increase in exports of feed wheat and corn for the Black Sea nation in 2014/15. They say that they are already in negotiation with Europe for a second round of duty-free export quotas to the EU for both grains, which they hope will begin Nov 1.

Russia meanwhile continue to major on wheat exports. Their Ag Ministry say that they exported 1.77 MMT of grains in the first half of the month, including 1.28 MMT of wheat (72% of the total), 314 TMT of barley and 158 TMT of corn. That takes the cumulative 2014/15 total to Oct 15 to 13.3 MMT, a 33% increase on a year ago. That consists of 11.13 MMT of wheat (over 83% of the total), 1.61 MMT of barley and 468 TMT of corn.

Rosstat said that Russian wheat stocks as at Oct 1 were up 30.8%, with barley inventories rising 52.2% and those for corn 210% higher.

On the international tender front, Jordan are said to be in for 100 TMT each of optional origin wheat and barley for Apr-May shipment.

In rapeseed news, Oil World were said to have pegged this year's EU-28 crop at a record 23.98 MMT, a 12.5% increase on last year. Top producer here is Germany, who's crop is up 8.5% at 6.27 MMT, followed by France with 5.51 MMT (up 26%), Poland with 3.1 MMT (up 15%) and the UK in fourth at 2.41 MMT (up 13%).

Chicago Grains Consolidate Weekly Gains On Friday

17/10/14 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed lower on the day, but higher for the week. "The high emotions seen in the macro markets over the past couple sessions seems to have run its course and this allowed beans to get back to trading fundamentals with market settling lower ahead of wide open harvest weekend," noted Benson Quinn Commodities. The "high emotion" to which they refer concerned slumping equities, and NYMEX crude slipping below $80/barrel yesterday for the first time for the fist time since June 2012. This may be responsible for the recent uptick in spec money coming back into the grains market, although there was an element of calm in these outside markets today. It will be interesting to see if this trend resumes again next week, with the Fed stopping printing money this month, or as one commentator put it "weaning the patient off the monetary morphine" - is he about to wake up and not like what he sees? "The 7-day outlook is dry over an enormous area of the United States heartland," according to Martell Crop Projections, which should allow for good harvest progress to be made. The US soybean harvest jumped from 20% to 40% complete last week, could it have advanced another 20 points when the USDA release their latest crop progress report on Monday night? The trade doesn't seem to think so, with the average trade estimate around 52% done, but then again the trade was only looking for 30-33% complete a week ago. Informa estimated US soybean plantings in 2015 at a record high 88.512 million acres, versus a previous forecast of 87.652 million in September. That would be a rise of 5.1% compared to what the USDA says was planted in 2014. Soybean planting in Brazil remains stalled. Dryness in the leading producing state of Mato Grosso is only 9.3% complete, up less than a point on a week ago (8.4% done), and 18 points behind this time last year. Somar say however that some parts of the state could pick up rains of up to 2 inches next week. Weekly export sales for beans came in at 935,000 MT for 2014/15 versus trade expectations of 650-750 TMT, China (709,400 MT) took the lion's share as usual. Actual shipments were 1,528,700 MT - a marketing-year high - and were also mostly to China (1,165,900 MT). Today's commitment of traders report shows fund money reducing their net short in beans for the week through to Tuesday night. Nov 14 Soybeans closed at $9.51 3/4, down 14 3/4 cents; Jan 15 Soybeans closed at $9.59 3/4, down 14 1/2 cents; Dec 14 Soybean Meal closed at $330.50, down $4.10; Dec 14 Soybean Oil closed at 32.02, down 34 points.

Corn: The corn market also closed lower on the day, but higher for the week. Weekly export sales were strong at 1,922,800 MT for 2014/15, and also a marketing-year high. There were also sales of 510,500 MT for 2015/16. Mexico was a featured buyer in both crop years, although the vast majority of this was simply confirmation of a large trade announced last Friday. Exports of 901,700 MT were primarily to Japan (348,200 MT), Colombia (115,800 MT), Mexico (87,400 MT), Peru (83,900 MT) and Egypt (65,500 MT). The USDA also reported sales of 120 TMT of US corn to "unknown" today. "I would not be surprised to see the corn market shift to a sideways to lower trade as harvest expands. It may depend on the macro markets showing more stability and less volatility," said Benson Quinn's Brian Henry. Informa estimated US corn plantings for the 2015 harvest at 87.771 million acres, that's up from their previous forecast of 87.275 million, although 3.4% lower than the USDA's estimate of 90.9 million planted this year. That would be the first time that soybean acres have outstripped corn plantings in as long as I can remember. Commerzbank said that current low corn prices will lead to reduced plantings in both North and South America for the 2015 harvest. They see US prices recovering to around $4/bushel in Q3 of next year. Corn planting in Argentina is 30% complete, favoured by good weather conditions across the last 7 days, according to the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange. They see plantings down 16% this year at 3 million ha. Crop conditions are generally good, they say. Last week the USDA put the 2014 US corn harvest at 24% complete versus 17% a year ago. That was broadly in line with expectations, although it lagged the 5-year average of 43% significantly. Perhaps that will have risen to around 35% or so on Monday night it is thought. The latest commitment of traders report shows fund money adding to their net long in corn for the week through to Tuesday night. India said that it had exported only 2.5 MMT of corn for the 2013/14 marketing year that ended in September. That's down sharply from the 4.7 MMT shipped out the previous season. Strong competition from Black Sea sellers such as Ukraine, Russia, and Romania may have been a contributing factor towards the decline. Russia's 2014 corn harvest now stands at 8.3 MMT off 1.8 million hectares, or 69% of the planned area. Dec 14 Corn closed at $3.48, down 4 1/4 cents; Mar 15 Corn closed at $3.61 1/4, down 4 cents.

Wheat: The wheat market closed mostly lower on the day, but also higher for the week, in what looks like pre-weekend consolidation. Weekly export sales of 454,000 MT for delivery in the 2014/15 marketing year, along with a further 40,000 MT for 2015/16 were deemed to be "routine" and in line with expectations. Actual exports themselves of 485,300 MT were also uninspiring, down 27 percent from the previous week and 21 percent from the prior 4-week average. Nothing to get excited about there. Informa estimated US wheat plantings for the 2015 harvest at 56.428 million acres, down from a previous forecast of 57 million and a bit below the 56.8 million that they USDA says was planted for this year's harvest. Tunisia bought 151,000 MT of optional origin durum wheat in a tender. The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange said that the Argentine wheat harvest is underway, although less than 1% done on a national level. Crop conditions are generally good. They held steady with their planted area estimate at 4.1 million hectares, an increase of more than 13% compared to a year ago. The Rosario Grain Exchange said that 70% of the wheat crop in its area is in good to very good condition. Yields will not reach their full potential, but they will be above average, they said, adding that compared to last year the current climate scenario is "very favourable". Russia said that they had harvested 22.9 million hectares of wheat, or 93% of the planned area, producing a bunker weight crop of 60.5 MMT to date. Ukraine said that it had exported more than 10 MMT of grains so far this marketing year, including almost 6 MMT of wheat. The Ukraine Ministry said that grain exports could hit a record 4.3 MMT this season, up from the existing all time high 32.8 MMT shipped out in 2013/14. The new projection would include 17.9 MMT of corn, 11.7 MMT of wheat and 4.16 MMT of barley, they say. Plantings of winter grains (mostly wheat) in Russia and Ukraine are already nearing completion, with Russia nearly 98% done and Ukraine 90% finished (and 94% done on wheat). Good soaking rains arrived this week for the latter, and are in the 14 day forecast for the former. The latest commitment of traders report shows fund money getting less short in Chicago wheat, and increasing their long position in Kansas wheat for the week through to Tuesday night. Dec 14 CBOT Wheat closed at $5.16, down 1 cent; Dec 14 KCBT Wheat closed at $6.01 3/4, down 3 1/4 cents; Dec 14 MGEX Wheat closed at $5.70, down 6 1/2 cents.