Chicago Closing Comments - Friday

11/11/11 -- Soybeans: Nov 11 Soybeans closed at USD11.66, up 8 cents; Jan 12 Soybeans closed at USD11.75 1/2, up 8 cents; Dec 11 Soybean Meal closed at USD299.50, up USD1.60; Dec 11 Soybean Oil closed at 50.98, up 46 points. Beans were the strongest of the grains on the day, but have been the weakest overall this week finishing 46 1/2 cents lower than last Friday's close. Meal is down USD15.90 and oil down 89 points on the week. This was meal's first close below USD300 on the weekly chart in more than a year. As ever, unconfirmed rumours of Chinese buying on this latest dip emerged. Informa Economics switched 900,000 acres out of soybeans and into corn for 2012 US plantings coming up with a figure of 76.1 million acres for beans.

Corn: Dec 11 Corn closed at USD6.38 1/2, down 7 cents; Mar 12 Corn closed at USD6.47 3/4, down 7 cents. On the week overall Dec was down 17 1/4 cents. Informa upped their projected 2012 US corn planting estimate to 94 million acres, suggesting a crop of 359 MMT, a 15% increase on this season. Reports of foreign feed wheat being shipped to the US to replace corn in feed rations is bearish as are suggestions that similar things are happening in Asia. Ukraine's corn harvest is winding down and now that they have their export duty removed they are emerging as aggressive sellers. European debt worries took a backseat today, but the problem certainly hasn't gone away even with a couple of new captains likely to be at the helm of the sinking Greek and Italian ships next week.

Wheat: Dec 11 CBOT Wheat closed at USD6.16 3/4, down 3 1/4 cents; Dec 11 KCBT Wheat closed at USD7.04, up 7 cents; Dec 11 MGEX Wheat closed at USD9.34 1/4, down 11 1/4 cents. Chicago wheat was down 20 cents on the week, with Kansas falling 14 cents and Minneapolis up 10 1/2 cents. Informa left their US all wheat area for the 2012 harvest unchanged at 57 million acres (up 2.7 million on 2011). A return to trendline yields would potentially give us a US wheat crop of 61.9 MMT next year, 14% up on the USDA's latest estimate for production in 2011. News of UK wheat being shipped into the US highlights the uncompetitive nature of domestic wheat and corn prices across the pond. Yesterday's weekly export data shows US shipments falling behind the level required to reach the USDA's 26 MMT target for the current season.

EU Wheat Ends Modestly Lower

11/11/11 -- EU grains ended mixed but mostly a little lower with Nov 11 London wheat down GBP1.00/tonne to GBP148.75/tonne and new front month Jan 12 Paris wheat EUR1.50/tonne easier at EUR184.50/tonne.

On the week as a whole Nov 11 London wheat was GBP2.00/tonne lower with Jan 12 Paris wheat falling EUR2.50/tonne.

The reason for the erratic performance of the now expired Nov 11 Paris wheat contract on Wednesday when it posted a huge EUR29.00/tonne intra-day trading range was apparently a lack of available storage for shorts to make delivery against. Rouen, the sole delivery point for Paris wheat, has the full signs hung up.

Stock markets closed 2-3% higher around the globe as Greece swore in a new PM and Italy looks like having a fresh one of their own by Monday morning. Both new incumbents appear to have a more level-headed reputation than their predecessors.

Media reports confirm the sale of UK feed wheat to an un-named US compounder, highlighting the uncompetitive nature of US corn in the ration. A 45,000 MT vessel is expected to sail from Portbury for the US next week. Whether that will be the only such shipment remains unclear.

US analytical firm Informa Economics today released their latest estimates for US crop production in 2012. They estimate a US corn crop of 359 MMT next year, 15% up on this year. US all wheat production is forecast at 61.9 MMT, a 14% increase.

Idiot Of The Week

11/11/11 -- I used to work for a feed company where the boss's son was deployed as a rep out on the road. The guy had a heart of gold but wasn't the brightest biscuit in the barrel if you know what I mean.

He rang me in the office one day: "I need a price for 10 tonnes of sugar beet pellets."

"OK, where's the farmer?" I enquire, as I obviously need to know which county he's in to calculate a delivered price.

"He's right here next to me" the muppet replies.

"No, I mean where does he live?"

"In the farmhouse of course" comes the reply as if I must be some sort of idiot not to know that particular piece of information.

Some will think that I've made that up, but I haven't.

The Morning Rant

11/11/11 -- There seems to be a modest air of calm about the place this morning. The Italian senate is expected to vote through austerity measures paving the way for Berlusconi to resign.

Yields on Italian bonds are off their highs and yesterday's auction of one year bills saw healthy demand.

Greece has got a new PM, and reports that France's credit rating had been downgraded by Standard & Poor's have been put down to a "technical error" by the rating agency.

So all in all things are looking rosy. The overnight's see wheat and corn 4-5 cents firmer with beans up 9-10 cents. Even so, front month Nov beans are still around 45 cents lower on the week so far with corn down 5 cents and wheat 13 cents easier.

In amongst all the excitement of the week you may have missed news that Alabama's Jefferson County filed for bankruptcy protection in the largest municipal bankruptcy in US history.

Ukraine shared the honours with Russian wheat in yesterday's Egyptian tender, beating French wheat on price by around USD15/tonne when freight is factored in. Argentine wheat came in the cheapest of the lot at USD239/tonne FOB, but lost out due to freight differentials. Even so, the US should take note. US shipments are starting to lag behind the level needed to reach the USDA's target of 26 MMT of exports for 2011/12.

There are reports that feed wheat from Brazil is being shipped into the US, undercutting domestic corn prices there. US wheat and corn prices are clearly too high, tight ending stocks for the latter or not.

Jan12 London wheat is down a pound this morning in quiet early trade. Domestic demand from the feed sector is sluggish at best. That said, as mentioned earlier in the week, farmer interest in selling in the mid to low GBP140's is also restrained.

So we have an impasse, who is going to break first?

Chicago Dives

10/11/11 -- Soybeans: Nov 11 Soybeans closed at USD11.58, down 17 3/4 cents; Jan 12 Soybeans closed at USD11.67 1/2, down 18 cents; Dec 11 Soybean Meal closed at USD297.90, down USD5.20; Dec 11 Soybean Oil closed at 50.52, down 47 points. Beans equalled their lowest close of the year, a front month hasn't closed below USD11.58 since October 2010. Weekly export sales were slightly better than expected at a combined 606,800 MT. Even so European debt concerns continue to dominate the market. Spillover weakness from corn and wheat was also a negative factor along with a firm US dollar.

Corn: Dec 11 Corn closed at USD6.45 1/2, down 10 1/2 cents; Mar 12 Corn closed at USD6.54 3/4, down 10 1/4 cents. Funds sold an estimated 12,000 contracts on the day, weighed down with length and with a nervous eye on escalating European debt problems. Export sales were very poor at 251,900 MT, much lower than the 550-750,000 MT expected. That lends weight to the notion that US corn sales are missing out to significantly cheaper foreign feed wheat, of which the world has plentiful stocks. Even so despite the USDA raising US ending stocks for 2011/12 this week a stocks to use ratio of 6.7% is the second lowest in the past forty years.

Wheat: Dec 11 CBOT Wheat closed at USD6.20, down 23 cents; Dec 11 KCBT Wheat closed at USD6.97, down 16 cents; Dec 11 MGEX Wheat closed at USD9.45 1/2, down 6 1/4 cents. Wheat export sales were low at 298,400 MT versus trade expectations of 350-450,000 MT. With shipments currently standing at 12.335 MMT, the US needs to ship 471,200 MT of wheat a week for the remainder of the marketing year to hit the USDA's export target of 26 MMT. It's failed to do that in four of the last five weeks. Egypt bought 240,000 MT of Russian/Ukraine wheat in this week's tender, US wheat wasn't even offered.

EU Wheat Close

10/11/11 -- EU grains ended mixed with Nov London wheat down GBP0.75/tonne to GBP149.50/tonne and Nov Paris wheat rising EUR1.00/tonne to EUR188.50/tonne. Nov Paris wheat had a quiet day to exit the board compared with yesterday's dramatic fireworks. Jan Paris wheat was EUR2.00/tonne lower at EUR186.00/tonne.

European debt concerns are growing, Reuters are reporting that French and German leaders have discussed the possibility of a kind of ring-fenced two-tier Eurozone, with stronger countries separated from the weaker ones. The question is who are the stronger ones?

The Italian Treasury auctioned off EUR5 billion one-year bills at a yield of 6.08 percent, a 14 year high. In a similar auction in Oct the yield was 3.57 percent, meaning that Italy's borrowing costs have risen 70% in a month. They will also attempt to sell EUR3 billion of five-year debt on Monday.

An escalation of Italy's difficulties would quickly engulf the rest of Europe. There are rumours of heavily indebted France going on a negative watch with a major rating agency.

Egypt bought 120,000 MT each of Russian and Ukraine wheat at levels around USD250-251.50/tonne FOB for February shipment. Those are similar prices to last week's wining bids from the same two protagonists.

The cheapest French offer was USD259/tonne. Argentine wheat was offered as low as USD239/tonne but has a significant freight disadvantage. US wheat wasn't even offered once again.

Brussels issued a respectable 502,000 MT of soft wheat export licences for the week to Nov 8th. Even so exports so far are only 5.54 MMT, 37% down on this time last year.

Russia says it has exported 13.3 MMT of grains so far this marketing year and expects shipments to reach 17 MMT by the end of 2011. That suggests that they will hit their self-imposed 24 MMT export ceiling around mid-March if they are able to maintain that pace across the worst of the winter. By that point they will probably have shipped around 21 MMT of wheat to foreign buyers, a whopping 425% increase on 2010/11.

There are plenty of other sellers who will be more than happy to fill their shoes in the spring if and when they do pull the plug on exports. Indeed Kazakhstan will be hoping that they do so sooner rather than later as they would dearly like to use major Russian ports like Novorossiysk, currently busy with exporting grain of it's own, as a gateway to markets in the west.

The corn harvest in Ukraine is 81% complete at 17.5 MMT, according to the Ministry there. That suggests a final crop of 21.6 MMT, almost 10 MMT up on last year. The USDA estimate that 12 MMT of that is looking for an export home this year, an increase of 140% on 2010/11.

The French corn harvest is seen at 15.0-15.2 MMT, around 9-10% higher than last year. The EU-27 corn crop is forecast almost 2 MMT, or 12.6%, higher than last season at 62.85 MMT according to the USDA.

I Might Be Red, But I'm Not Dead

10/11/11 -- Rumours sweeping Twitter that bloated ginger crooner Mick Hucknall is dead appear to have sadly been proven inaccurate, according to this report on Sky: Shame

The kid over the road is ginger. His Mum said to his Dad the other week "He may find it difficult settling in at big school, with his erm, you know, erm, slightly disadvantaged follicular discolouration. I think you should do something to help him prepare himself for what could be a difficult first few weeks."

So his Dad punched him in the mouth and stole his dinner money.

Harsh but fair I think you'll find.

Early Call On Chicago

10/11/11 -- The overnight grains were mostly a little steadier with wheat and beans up 1-2 cents and corn 2-4 cents firmer. Crude is up USD1.89 at USD97.63/barrel.

Weekly export sales from the USDA are reported as 251,900 MT for corn, much lower than the 550-750,000 MT expected. Wheat sales are also low at 298,400 MT versus trade expectations of 350-450,000 MT. Soybean sales were a bit better than anticipated at a combined 606,800 MT.

These are the correct numbers according to the USDA website. If you see any others getting bandied about it seems that Dow Jones are mistakenly reporting last week's export sales as this week's numbers!

Wheat is being supported by corn, maybe neither will be too popular this afternoon after those disappointing export figures.

US wheat is faced with a wall of export competition much of which wasn't there last season. Yesterday's export estimates for Russia and Australia were probably too low. The former will detract from US wheat sales and the latter may negatively impact upon US corn sales.

To highlight the point Egypt has again this afternoon bought 120,000 MT each of both Russian and Ukraine wheat.

With shipments currently standing at 12.335 MMT, the US needs to ship 471,200 MT of wheat a week for the remainder of the marketing year to hit the USDA's export target of 26 MMT. It's failed to do that in four of the last five weeks.

South American weather is seen as generally favourable.

Market direction from here may have more to do with outside influences, particularly from Europe.

The Italian Treasury has placed EUR5 billion one-year bills at a yield of 6.08 percent, a 14 year high. In a similar auction in October the yield was 3.57 percent.

EU growth forecasts have been slashed from 1.8 percent to just 0.5 percent.

China's export growth is also slowing as the EU debt crisis bites.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: corn 3-4 cents higher, beans up 2-3 cents and wheat 1-2 cents firmer. Early strength in corn and wheat may fade in the light of the disappointing export sales numbers.

EU Rapemeal Prices

10/11/11 -- Latest guide prices for EU rapemeal today, basis FOB Lower Rhine in euros/metric tonne, with change from previous trading session:


Chinese Chopsticks

10/11/11 -- Today I read with horror in the Washington Times that China is to "largely phase out" television programmes that are "overly entertaining."

Lenny Henry and Dawn French have both been on the blower to offer their services I gather.

The article says that programs dealing with marital troubles and matchmaking, talent shows, game shows, variety shows, talk shows and reality programming are all at risk from the chop.

Just think if they brought that in over here poor old Brucie would never work again.

We'd have to do away with I'm a big brother celebrity dancing on ice in the jungle I demand a blood test to see who Chantelle's real father is bring on the talentless singing binman Christmas panto cook off with baby James as well. What a horrendous thought. Graham Norton would be buggered too. Match of the Day and Corrie would be safe though.

Where do we sign?

World Wheat Exports

10/11/11 -- Scrutinising yesterday's USDA WASDE report with regards to their world wheat trade gets me re-writing the 2011/12 league table a little.

As mentioned below their estimate of 19 MMT for Russia is probably too low and should be nearer the 21 MMT mark, I feel. I'd suggest that their Australian estimate may be a shade under too, and their US and EU predictions possibly a little high.

Regardless of which one is right, we both see the EU-27 sliiping from second place to fifth in the world export rankings for the current season. My projections see Russia getting within 4 MMT of matching the US at the head of the table.

Here's a comparison table between what the USDA are forecasting and my own slant on things:

World Wheat Exports 2011/12 (MMT):









Russia Latest

10/11/11 -- Russia has exported 13.3 MMT of grains so far this marketing year (Jul11/Jun12) and expects shipments to reach 17 MMT by the end of 2011, according to the Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Zubkov.

That would suggest them reaching their self-imposed 24 MMT export ceiling around mid-March if they are able to maintain that pace across the worst of the winter (assuming we get one).

Kazakhstan and Ukraine will be only too happy to fill the void I'm sure.

Meanwhile yesterday's USDA numbers had Russia exporting 19 MMT of wheat, 0.6 MMT of corn and 1.6 MMT of barley in 2011/12. That only adds up to 21.2 MMT, suggesting that there is room yet for some upward revision on all three.

It looks like wheat exports of 21 MMT might be nearer the mark.

Meanwhile "Heavy planting rains in Russia winter wheat have been a blessing and a curse, preventing growers from getting all their wheat sown but promoting favourable development," say Martell Crop Projections.

"The United States attaché in Moscow claims higher fertilizer applications may boost yields in winter grains this season," they add.

The Morning Markets

10/11/11 -- The overnight Globex grains are mostly a little firmer and European grains mixed in early trade. Italy is centre stage as it attempts to auction off EUR5 billion of one year bonds this morning. I have an uneasy feeling that things are going to develop very rapidly and very badly from here for what is probably the most corrupt nation in Europe with the knock-on effects being felt all around the globe.

The chance of a UK defaulting on it's debt would jump from 9% to 22% in the event of an Italian default, according to the Telegraph.

Chinese export growth meanwhile has slowed rapidly from 24.5% in August to 15.9% in October as the debt crisis hits European demand.

Under the circumstances the grain market has looked pretty resilient up until now faced with the unfolding European debt debacle. How much longer it can manage to do that as we lurch towards what is shaping up like a double dip recession remains to be seen.

In the UK, having had a sniff of selling wheat at GBP200/tonne ex farm, current levels of GBP142-145/tonne aren't getting too many excited so growers are sitting on their hands. Those that also grew rapeseed this year can still generate cash if they need it by selling that for GBP355-360 ex farm before bonuses.

That said, consumers aren't exactly banging the door down either. What's looking like another mild month isn't helping demand much. Export interest is also slack in the face of plenty of wheat and corn in Europe and the FSU.

Talking of which, the corn harvest in Ukraine is 81% complete at 17.5 MMT, according to the Ministry there. That suggests a final crop of 21.6 MMT, almost 10 MMT up on last year.

FranceAgriMer now peg French corn output at just over 15 MMT, an increase of 8.7% on last year's 13.8 MMT. The USDA place it even higher at 15.2 MMT having increased their EU-27 corn production estimate by almost 2 MMT yesterday to 62.85 MMT, a 12.6% increase on last year.

Chicago Close

09/11/11 -- Soybeans: Nov 11 Soybeans closed at USD11.75 3/4, down 19 1/2 cents; Jan 12 Soybeans closed at USD11.85 1/2, down 19 1/2 cents; Dec 11 Soybean Meal closed at USD303.10, down USD4.50; Dec 11 Soybean Oil closed at 50.99, down 86 points. The USDA report was a bit bearish overall for beans showing 2011/12 ending stocks rising 19% from last month to 195 million bushels. They also placed Brazil's crop up 1.5 MMT to 75 MMT and have them exporting more soybeans than America in 2011/12. Trade estimates for tomorrow's weekly export sales range from 400 to 600 thousand MT.

Corn: Dec 11 Corn closed at USD6.56, down 4 1/2 cents; Mar 12 Corn closed at USD6.65, down 6 cents. The USDA report was a bit more friendly to corn, pegging this season's US corn yield a bushel an acre lower than the trade expected at 146.7bpa and placing production at production at 12.310 billion bushels. Yields at that level are the lowest since 2003. Even so 2011/12 ending stocks were higher than trade estimates by 48 million bushels at 843 million. Trade estimates for Thursday's weekly export sales range from 550 to 750 thousand MT. European debt woes look like continuing to cap gains.

Wheat: Dec 11 CBOT Wheat closed at USD6.43, down 14 cents; Dec 11 KCBT Wheat closed at USD7.13, down 25 1/2 cents; Dec 11 MGEX Wheat closed at USD9.51 3/4, up 5 1/2 cents. Minneapolis continues to lead the way, further increasing it's premium over Chicago and Kansas wheat. The USDA placed 2011/12 ending stocks higher than expected at 828 million bushels and raised world carryout at a ten-year high 202.6 MMT. EU wheat production was raised more than 1 MMT and Kazakhstan's by 2 MMT. EU and Russian export potential was increased by 1 MMT for each, whilst US exports were left unchanged. Trade estimates for tomorrows weekly export sales report range from 350 to 450 thousand MT.

EU Grains Mixed

09/11/11 -- EU grains finished mixed with Nov 11 London wheat down GBP0.50/tonne to GBP150.25/tonne and Nov 11 Paris wheat crashing EUR15.25/tonne to EUR187.50/tonne. Jan 12 Paris wheat was up EUR0.50/tonne to EUR188.00/tonne.

Nearby Nov 11 Paris wheat, which goes off the board tomorrow, had a truly remarkable session with an intra-day trading range of EUR29.00/tonne! At one stage it was being priced at a more than EUR20.00/tonne premium to Jan 12 before ending the day at a discount of EUR0.50/tonne.

Yields on Italian bonds hit fresh euro-era highs above 7% making the need for a bailout ever more likely. The problem is that with a public debt of almost EUR2 trillion, where is the money going to come from?

Greece has already been consigned to a bit part role as the heavyweights take centre stage. There is a real concern now that what began as Greek Farce will descend into an Italian Massacre rather quickly.

France AgriMer pegs the soft wheat crop there at 33.7 MMT, down 2 MMT from last season. Non-EU exports this season are seen falling by a third to 8.6 MMT, whilst exports within the Union are expected to decrease by a more modest 3% to 6.5 MMT.

The French Ministry's statistical unit Agreste meanwhile increased their corn production estimate there this season to 15.2 MMT, pegging yields at a record 10.1 MT/ha.

The Ukrainian Agrarian Confederation says that corn yields there will be a record 6 MT/ha this year.

The long awaited USDA numbers were a mixed bag placing US corn and soybean yields and production a little lower than expected. US 2011/12 ending stocks were however higher than anticipated for corn, wheat and soybeans.

Elsewhere around the globe they estimated Argentine wheat production down by 0.5 MMT, which was more than made up for by increases for the EU-27 of 1.15 MMT and Kazakhstan by 2 MMT, taking world ending stocks to 202.6 MMT - the highest in a decade.

Within the EU-27, French all wheat production was raised 0.7 MMT from last month to 36.0 MMT and UK output was increased to 15.35 MMT, 3% up on last year.

Russia and EU-27 wheat exports were seen rising by 1 MMT each.

EU-27 barley output was raised by almost 0.5 MMT to 52.4 MMT, with exports increasing by a similar amount to 2.5 MMT.

USDA Report - My Reaction And Early Call

09/11/11 -- I'd say neutral for corn and a bit bearish for soybeans and wheat. Aside from the US production numbers falling a bit more than expected for corn there wasn't too much bullish news here. US ending stocks were higher than expected for corn, wheat and beans: by 48m, 13m and 11m bushels respectively.

Around the globe we saw Argy wheat production reduced by 0.5 MMT, which was more than made up for by increases for the EU-27 of 1.15 MMT and Kazakhstan by 2 MMT taking ending stocks to 202.6 MMT - the highest in a decade.

Russia and EU-27 wheat exports were seen rising by 1 MMT each, although Kazakhstan's were left on hold - presumably due to logistics.

For corn, Chinese production was raised 2.5 MMT to 184.5 MMT, that of the EU-27 by almost 2 MMT and Argy output increased by 1.5 MMT to 29 MMT. Exports from the latter two were both increased by 0.5 MMT.

EU-27 barley output was also raised by almost 0.5 MMT to 52.4 MMT, with exports increasing by a similar amount to 2.5 MMT.

For soybeans the USDA pegged world production marginally higher with reduced output in the US and Argentina being offset by a 1.5 MMT increase for Brazil to 75 MMT. China's import requirement was left unchanged at 56.5 MMT. World ending stocks were increased by 0.5 MMT.

Overall it's looking like a bit of a non-event, and I'd expect the market this afternoon to quickly refocus on European debt problems, particularly now that Italy is starting to take centre stage from Greece. The firmer US dollar should see grains trading red this afternoon with early calls: beans and wheat 7-10 cents lower and corn down 1-3 cents.

The USDA Numbers

09/11/11 -- The long awaited USDA numbers are out and US corn yields are pegged a bushel and acre lower than the average trade guess at 146.7bpa, with US production coming in fractionally lower than anticipated at 12.31 billion bushels.

For soybeans yields came in at 41.3bpa, 0.2bpa down on last month and 0.1bpa lower than what was expected. Production was a tad under the average trade guess at 3.046 billion bushels.

US ending stocks however were higher across the board compared with trade estimates, with corn coming in at 843 million, beans at 195 million and wheat at 828 million.

World corn ending stocks were a little lower than expected, with soybeans bang on the money and wheat 1 MMT up on trade forecasts at 202.6 MMT.

Here's the numbers in detail:

US Production Estimates 2011/12 (Billion Buhels):


Nov 11

Avg Est


Oct 11

USDA 10/11
US Ending Stock Estimates 2011/12 (Billion Buhels):


Nov 11

Avg Est


Oct 11

USDA 10/11
World Ending Stock Estimates 2011/12 (MMT):


Nov 11

Avg Est


Oct 11

USDA 10/11

EU Rapemeal Prices

09/11/11 -- Guide prices for EU rapemeal, basis FOB Lower Rhine in euros/metric tonne, with change from previous day:


The Early Vibe

09/11/11 -- Catching my eye this morning is news that yields on Italian 10-year bonds have risen above an unsustainable 7% today. It is surely only a matter of time before they're next up for a bailout whether Berlusconi steps down or not.

The problem there is where's the money for that going to come from? The recent pledge to hike the EU bailout fund to a trillion euros is no more than that, a pledge. It's not like there's actually a trillion euros, or what's left of it, sitting in the European Financial Stability Facility bank account right now is it? What's in there is actually an array of IOU's from the various member nations, including Italy, as far as I can tell.

The FTSE100 is down 1.5% and the German DAX and Paris CAC a little over 2% lower on the news. I'm surprised that they aren't down more than that personally, but the day is yet young.

Elsewhere I read that Chinese pork prices are down for seven weeks in a row rendering pig production there unprofitable with corn prices currently where they are. The fall in pork prices has at least helped Chinese inflation fall from 6.1% in September to 5.5% in October, according to China's Ministry of Commerce.

Nov 11 Paris wheat looks like it's in for another volatile day, it's currently up EUR2.00/tonne at EUR204.75/tonne, but has traded as high as EUR214.00/tonne this morning at one stage, having risen EUR6.75/tonne yesterday. It goes off the board tomorrow and is a massive premium to what will then become the new front month, Jan 12.

The UK has recorded its biggest ever trade deficit (GBP9.8 billion) since records began in September. That's knocked the pound vs the dollar, but we are up above 1.17 against a sick as a parrot euro.

All eyes are on the USDA this afternoon. Will they maintain their appetite for shock? I wouldn't be at all surprised.

The Morning Rant

09/11/11 -- Lorry drivers, you'd have thought that they might have learnt to be a bit more cautious after the weekend's terrible events wouldn't you, but many of them on the M42/M1/A1 yesterday were continuing to drive like drunken sailors.

You know that you are getting old when you don't like driving on motorways anymore surrounded by these reckless mass murderers. Whenever the police finally arrest someone for mass murder they're always lorry drivers aren't they? "Police say that (insert name of mass murderer here) was able to evade capture by living off bacon butties in lay-by on the A59 near Skipton for seventeen weeks."

I think I'll go by train next time, not with Branson's lot obviously. Having already ruled out British Unfairways as my preferred mode of transport it occurs to me that I'm starting to run out of options. Despite being an island nation getting around by boat isn't that easy these days is it?

Talking of driving, one of the speakers at Monday's conference was talking about the importance of putting the right feed into a chicken to get the right performance out of it. To illustrate his point he said "I mean, you wouldn't put petrol into a diesel car would you?"

As I pointed out to him, he clearly hadn't met MrsN#1 yet. Which is like saying "you wouldn't drive all round Devon for weeks with the dashboard flashing up warning lights like Blackpool illuminations and doing nothing whatsoever about it until the engine explodes would you?"

Or if you did "you wouldn't then say well there were always lights coming on I don't know what they mean do I?" to justify your actions.

Or "you wouldn't crush your husband's legs up against a crash barrier in a car park whilst he was trying to help you reverse into a space, ignoring his pleas to STOP! STOP! rendering him unable to move, would you?"

Or "I mean, nobody would crash their car into a bus in broad daylight whilst driving in a clearly marked bus lane that they shouldn't be in and then blame it on the bus driver, would they?"

Ah....happy days....

Chicago Ends Higher Ahead Of USDA Numbers

08/11/11 -- Soybeans: Nov 11 Soybeans closed at USD11.95 1/4, up 3 cents; Jan 12 Soybeans closed at USD12.05, up 3 1/4 cents; Dec 11 Soybean Meal closed at USD307.60, down USD1.70; Dec 11 Soybean Oil closed at 51.85, up 65 points. It was a quiet session ahead of tomorrow's USDA reports which are expected to show increased carryout for soybeans on the back of lower exports. Ending stocks are seen up 20 million bushels to 180 million. US soybean production is estimated at 3.05 billion bushels. Brazilian output may also be increased as plantings there have gone into the ground in a timely manner.

Corn: Dec 11 Corn closed at USD6.60 1/2, up 7 1/4 cents; Mar 12 Corn closed at USD6.71, up 5 3/4 cents. Tomorrow's report is expected to show US corn yields and production falling slightly to 147.7bpa and 12.381 billion bushels respectively. 2011/12 ending stocks are seen down from 866 million bushels to 795 million, with global carryout also falling a little from 123.2 MMT to 122.4 MMT. Funds were said to have bought 11,000 contracts on the day with the USDA confirming the sale of 85,000 MT to South Korea.

Wheat: Dec 11 CBOT Wheat closed at USD6.57, up 18 1/4 cents; Dec 11 KCBT Wheat closed at USD7.38 1/2, up 14 cents; Dec 11 MGEX Wheat closed at USD9.46 1/4, up 18 cents. Tomorrow's report is expected to have less potential to throw up a surprise for wheat than corn or beans. US 2011/12 ending stocks are seen falling 20 million bushels to 817 million and global carryout is also forecast slightly lower from last month at 201.56 MMT - still a weighty number. The most likely world candidate to see an increase in production from last month's estimates is probably Kazakhstan.

EU Wheat Mostly Higher Ahead Of USDA Reports

08/11/11 -- EU grains ended mixed but mostly higher with Nov 11 London wheat up GBP0.75/tonne to GBP050.75/tonne and soon to expire Nov 11 Paris wheat EUR6.75/tonne firmer at EUR202.75/tonne.

Shorts on front month Nov 11 Paris wheat appear to be getting squeezed ahead of contract expiry on Thursday. Jan 12 was only EUR1.25/tonne higher at the close and is now a hefty EUR15.25/tonne discount to Nov 11, which makes little sense fundamentally.

Greece is already being regarded as old news as market attention now starts to focus on Italy where the yield on 10-year bonds today rose to another fresh euro-era high of 6.76%.

Despite his protestations to the contrary Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi may be forced to come cap in hand to the EU/IMF for a bailout rescue similar to that forced upon Greece, Ireland and Portugal when rates got this high. The main difference here though being that Italy's cap is far bigger than any of those were.

US winter wheat hasn't got off to a great start but "hard red winter wheat received beneficial heavy rainfall overnight in Kansas and Oklahoma, the number 1 and 2 top winter wheat states," say Martell Crop Projections.

"Hard red winter wheat ratings improved to 46% good-excellent, 39% fair and 15% poor-very poor...significantly better than last year on the same date which was 40% good-excellent, 41% fair and 19% poor-very poor," they add.

Tomorrow brings another raft of data from the USDA, although the numbers on wheat are less likely to be game changers than they could be for corn and soybeans.

Random Ramblings

08/11/11 -- Just back from speaking at EPIC (the egg and poultry industry conference) in Birmingham, or kiss my arse Birmingham as MrsN#3 fondly calls it due to a monumental traffic problem we had there a year or two back.

Met loads of people, drank lots of beer, listened to some very interesting speakers and gave out lots of business cards (once again the dog's business cards were far more in demand than my own, they appear to have reached cult status, it's only a matter of time before they start popping up on eBay). I might have to get him to "sign" a few if you get my drift.

I was given what they told me was the "graveyard shift" immediately after lunch, but did my best to rally the troops with my all-time favourite chicken joke, even so one or two in the audience still managed to doze off despite my riveting address. I think that next time I do one of these things I'm going to take a klaxon horn with me, so be warned.

One of the speakers was from a leading supermarket and he came out with some interesting info, including the fact that he has dedicated screens in his office constantly monitoring what Joe and Josephine (or is it Chantelle?) Public is saying about them on Twitter and Facebook.

In addition he said that the average family's disposable income to spend on the weekly shop is down by fifteen quid on a year ago (Sept 11 vs Sept 10) and in fact that it has now fallen for 22 months on the trot.

Other interesting trivia included the news that KFC are opening a new "restaurant" in China every 18 hours. I put the word restaurant in brackets as we all know they are no more a restaurant than Victoria Beckham is a singer are they?

I mean if you told the missus that you were taking her out to a restaurant and in fact turned up at a KFC then you could expect a bit of an earbashing couldn't you? Even if you did treat her to the works: a bargain bucket, two litres of coke, a vienetta and half a dozen lemon-scented wet wipes. "Put some of them in yer handbag love, its cheaper and more convenient than that expensive Jean Paul Gaultier muck you normally douse yourself in."

I'm surprised that the corn bulls haven't got hold of this particular piece of information. Corn ends limit up as KFC open new 100-seater restaurant in Tiananmen Square. I'm turning bullish on lemon-scented wet wipes and little bags of salt too.

EU Wheat Ends Narrowly Mixed

07/11/11 -- EU grains ended mixed with Nov London wheat down GBP0.50/tonne to GBP150.00/tonne and Nov Paris wheat rising EUR0.50/tonne to EUR196.00/tonne.

The market was quiet ahead of Wednesday's upcoming crop reports from the USDA.

Nov Paris corn went off the board today and Nov Paris wheat expires on Thursday.

Rabobank increased their Australian wheat production estimate from 25.25 MMT to 25.6 MMT. Exports will reach a record "in excess of 21 MMT" they also said, at least 2 MMT more than the USDA's October estimate.

Record large carryover stocks from last season continue to weigh on the market there, they added, using the word "burdensome" - it's the first time we've heard that in a while. Indeed the FAO now peg world wheat output at a record 691 MMT, 6 MMT more than the last "burdensome" record crop in 2009 and 10 MMT higher than the USDA.

Russia's grain harvest now stands at 96.9 MMT in bunker weight off 96.7% of the planned area with yields up 21% on last year.

In Kazakhstan the harvest is over producing 29.7 MMT of grain in bunker weight with yields there more than doubling. That should produce a clean weight crop of around 26 MMT of which 22 MMT should be wheat, 3 MMT more than the USDA's latest missive.

The main problem that the landlocked latter now has is getting it's grain to market with Russia not too keen to co-operate at the risk of jeopardising it's own export ambitions.

Harvesting in Ukraine is 94% done producing 51.9 MMT of grain, with the corn harvest 77% complete at 16.4 MMT.