Market Snippets

Crude oil is around USD79/barrel, despite US stocks rising yesterday by 1.7 million barrels according to the American Petroleum Institute. The market seems to be focusing more on a drawdown in US gasoline and distillate stocks instead. The US Energy Dept will report on crude inventories this afternoon, they usually concur with the API around 75% of the time. The current cold snap gripping the US should help demand, the pundits are saying.

Those two old supermarket sluggers of Tesco and Asda (hums theme tune from Rocky) have both announced that they won't be raising the VAT rate back up to 17.5% on "thousands" of lines come Jan 1st. Exactly how long the offer will last is unclear, will it go the distance and end on a cliff-hanging split decision? Meanwhile Waitrose, played by Burgess Meredith, say that they've had a great Christmas -its most successful ever - with sales up over 20% for the w/e Dec 26th.

UkrAgroConsult peg the 2009 Ukraine wheat crop at 20.8 MMT, corn production at 9.5 MMT and barley output at 11.3 MMT. Their figures for 2008 production were 24.2 MMT, 10 MMT and 11.8 MMT respectively. They estimate 2010 wheat output at 18.7 MMT, up 700,000 MT on their original October forecast. Meanwhile, the local Ag Ministry say that the country have exported 12.2 MMT of grain during the current marketing year (to 10th Dec).

According to the Conab, many Brazilian farmers chose to plant soy instead of maize this season, due to lower production costs and greater resistance of the grain to drought. If the weather conditions are favourable in the main growing areas, then the soybean harvest fpr 2009/10 may increase 12.9% over the 2008/09 crop, which totalled 57.16 MMT, coming in at a record 64.56 MMT, they say.

Uruguay is expecting a record wheat crop for the second year running in 2009/10 while the barley harvest is forecast as the largest in the last ten years according to the Statistics Office from the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries. Winter crops area was estimated in 721,000 hectares of which 546,000 was wheat (70,000 more than last year). To find similar areas planted with wheat Uruguay must look back over thirty years, to 1976/77 when 543,000 hectares were sown. The estimated crop will be above 1.8 MMT, an all time record and for the second year running. The yield of 3.336 kilos per hectare is also a historic record, say the Ministry. Barley covered 140,000 hectares this year, 8% more than the previous crop and the largest area in the last ten years. Yields so far are in the range of 3.294 kilos per hectare, second only to the 2006/07 crop record. Meanwhile summer crops in Uruguay this season are estimated to cover a million hectares, 30% higher than last year, with soybeans taking the highest share at 848,000 hectares.