15/05/15 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed lower on the day and for the week. Tuesday's WASDE report, and more specifically the forecast 500 million bushels US carryout at the end of the 2015/16 continue to weigh on the market. Even a record large for the month of April NOPA soybean crush of 150.3 million bushels couldn't help beans close in positive territory today. That was well above the average trade estimate of 148.2 million bushels according to a Bloomberg survey and also more than 13% up on 132.7 million in April 2014. It was also 10 million bushels higher than the previous April record crush set in 2008. The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange said that the Argentine soybean harvest was approaching 80% complete, and held steady with their forecast for a record 60 MMT crop, that's 1.5 MMT more than the USDA's revised forecast released Tuesday. Beans tested $9.50 on the Jul 15 contract, which just about held. We've only had two front month closes below that level since the market set 4-year lows back in late September/early October. The new crop soybean:corn price ratio finished the week at 2.44:1 - down from the 7-month high of 2.53:1 set prior to Tuesday's USDA numbers. The trade will be looking to Monday for the regular weekly export inspections report and to see how much progress has been made with planting soybeans this past week. US farmers were 31% done with soybeans a week ago, that should have edged up somewhere into the 40's this week, it is thought. Ukraine's Ag Ministry said that the country is 84% planted on both sunflower and soybeans at 3.86 million ha and 1.58 million ha respectively. Jul 15 Soybeans closed at $9.53 1/4, down 3 3/4 cents; Aug 15 Soybeans closed at $9.46 1/2, down 3 3/4 cents; Jul 15 Soybean Meal closed at $303.30, up $1.10; Jul 15 Soybean Oil closed at 33.07, down 27 points. On a front month basis beans fell 31 1/4 cents during the course of the week, meal was down $11.90 and oil grained 27 points. Managed money has a net short on beans of over 50k contracts as of Tuesday night, today's Commitment of Traders report shows.
Corn: The corn market closed a couple of cents or so lower on the day, with little in the way of fresh news. Ukraine said that its corn crop was now 87% planted on 3.89 million ha. The Ukraine Ministry said that the country had exported 15.4 MMT of corn so far this season. APK Inform said that they expect full season Ukraine corn exports down 3.9% year on year at 19 MMT. Zambia's Ag Ministry said that dry weather will cut their 2015 corn harvest by 21% to 2.6 MMT. The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange said that the Argentine corn harvest was a third done, and forecast production unchanged from a week ago at 25 MMT. The French corn crop was reported at 92% sown as of Monday, up 10 points in a week and 4 points ahead of this time last year. Taiwan was said to have bought 130,000 MT of Brazilian corn for Jun/Aug shipment in a tender. There's talk of a Chinese "clampdown" on sorghum imports, in an effort to create a bit more demand for its own burdensome domestic corn stocks. Some analysts estimate these at 20 MMT more than Tuesday's official USDA figure of 80 MMT as at the end of 2014/15. An Australian sorghum shipment to China has apparently been rejected this week due to the presence of a thing called Johnsongrass - one of the most troublesome of perennial grasses. Johnsongrass hybridizes with grain sorghum and, under certain conditions, the leaves can produce toxic amounts of hydrocyanic acid, which can poison livestock when ingested. This looks reminiscent of the sudden rise in rejections of US corn shipments to China more than a year ago which suddenly brought that trade to a halt. The market is expecting that US 2015 corn planting could be as much as 90% done in Monday night's report from the USDA. Planting last week was 75% complete versus the 5-year average pace of only 57% done. There's some talk of a frost risk in parts of the north western US Corn Belt next week. Jul 15 Corn closed at $3.65 1/2, down 2 1/2 cents; Sep 15 Corn closed at $3.72 1/2, down 2 cents. For the week corn was even on a front month basis. Managed money is still sitting on a hefty short according to tonight's Commitment of Traders report.
Wheat: The wheat market closed slightly lower on the day, but with good gains for the week. Wheat stumbled for most of the session, but still looks pretty good on the charts, Benson Quinn suggested. Russia cancelled its export duty on wheat today, which may allow a further 1-2 MMT to be shipped out between now and the end of the season. Egypt's GASC said that it had bought 4.6 MMT of foreign wheat for import in their just ended 2014/15 season, that's down sharply on the 6.4 MMT purchased a year previously. The top suppliers were France (2 MMT), Romanina (1.1 MMT), Russia (910 TMT), the US (345 TMT) and Ukraine (190 TMT). "A bumper wheat harvest is anticipated in China from exceptionally generous spring rainfall on the North China Plain. The two leading wheat provinces Henan and Shandong were extremely wet receiving 150-200% of normal rainfall mid March to mid May. USDA anticipates a record China wheat harvest of 130 MMT. Abundant wheat supplies would increase ending stocks to 71.6 million tons, a 14% increase from last year. Exceptionally wet conditions are linked to a strong El Nino influence. The North China Plain is especially sensitive to the ENSO signal, receiving drenching rain with the El Nino, but drought with La Nina," said Martell Crop Projections. FranceAgriMer raised the proportion of the French winter wheat crop rated good to very good one point to 91%. "A prolonged period of drought has come to an end in Western Europe giving wheat a needed boost. France is the leading wheat country in the European Union and also wettest, following drenching rainfall the past 2-3 weeks. Parched wheat farms in United Kingdom also got a needed boost from heavy rainfall recently, boosting wheat potential. Denmark is also very wet. Very significant rainfall reached Germany and Poland, all important important wheat countries," said Martell Crop Projections. Ukraine said it has exported 10.1 MMT of wheat so far this season. APK Inform estimated full season wheat exports there at 11 MMT. Russia said that is spring wheat crop was 25.8% sown on 3.4 million ha versus 4.1 million ha a year ago. Jul 15 CBOT Wheat closed at $5.11, down 3 1/4 cents; Jul 15 KCBT Wheat closed at $5.41 3/4, down 1 1/2 cents; Jul 15 MGEX Wheat closed at $5.61 1/4, down 5 1/4 cents. On a front month basis Chicago wheat gained 34 1/2 cents, with the Kansas market adding 31 1/4 cents and Minneapolis advancing 32 3/4 cents.
15/05/15 -- EU grains closed mostly lower on the day and mixed, but little changed, for the week.
The day ended with May 15 London wheat down GBP0.35/tonne at GBP108.10/tonne, Sep 15 Paris wheat was EUR1.50/tonne lower at EUR174.50/tonne, Jun 15 Paris corn was down EUR0.50/tonne at EUR154.50/tonne and Aug 15 Paris rapeseed fell EUR0.75/tonne to EUR353.75/tonne.
It's been quite a lively week, but ultimately one that ends with prices little different to where they were this time last Friday. For the week London wheat was GBP0.15/tonne higher, with Paris wheat gaining EUR1.25/tonne, corn lost EUR0.25/tonne and rapeseed was EUR0.50/tonne lower.
The old crop/new crop London wheat spread widened to GBP11.90/tonne versus GBP11.10/tonne a week ago and GBP8.35/tonne on the first of the month.
The pound finished the week little changed versus the euro, and up around 3 cents against the US dollar.
As was fairly widely anticipated, Russia today abolished the minimum EUR35/tonne export duty on wheat. That might allow a further 1-2 MMT to come onto the export market between now and the end of the season, depending on who's estimate you believe.
The statement that accompanied the announcement said that the move would provide Russian agricultural producers with additional funds to carry out their spring sowing campaign. It's probably more likely though that Russian shippers already have much, if not all, of this wheat on hand already, so Russian growers might not get much in the way of financial benefit from the move.
There are reports now that domestic Russian prices have fallen so low that it is more profitable (or less loss-making) to sell to the government intervention fund than to shippers looking to export.
Russian spring grain planting is said by the Ag Ministry to be 45% complete on 14 million ha, which is 2.2 million ha less than this time a year ago. Progress is slowest in the Far Eastern region (20% sown), Siberia (17% complete) and the Urals (7% done).
Nationally only 25% of the Russian 2015 spring wheat crop has been sown so far. Spring barley and corn planting is around two thirds done.
APK Inform forecast Russia's 2014/15 barley exports at almost 5.5 MMT - a new record and more than double those of last season.
They also raised their estimate for total 2014/15 Ukraine grain exports to 34.8 MMT, a 8.9% rise on last season and a record volume. That includes 19 MMT of corn (down 3.9% on last season), 11 MMT of wheat (up 17.7%) and 4.38 MMT of barley (up 77%).
The Ukraine Ag Ministry said that the country had exported 30.22 MMT of grains so far this season, including 15.4 MMT of corn, 10.21 MMT of wheat and 4.38 MMT of barley.
Essentially then APK Inform seem to believe that barley exports are finished, and that there's less than 800 TMT of wheat to ship between now and the remainder of the season.
The Ukraine state statistics service said that the country's grain stocks as at My 1 were 22% higher than a year ago at 12.9 MMT, including 6.8 MMT of corn, 4.6 MMT of wheat and 1 MMT of barley.
Closer to home, FranceAgriMer said that the French corn crop was now 92% planted as of Monday, up 10 points in a week and 4 points ahead of this time last year.
French winter wheat is 26% headed, up from 7% a week ago but 10 points behind last year. Winter barley is 96% headed versus 70% a week ago and 98% a year ago. They said that 36% of the spring barley crop was at the 2-node stage versus 11% a week ago and 17% this time last year.
They estimate 91% of the French winter wheat crop to be in good to very good condition, up one point on a week ago and versus only 74% a year ago. Winter barley ratings also improved one point to 90% good to very good versus 73% a year ago. Spring barley was rated 95% good to very good and corn was pegged at 91% good to very good.
Bloomberg report that temperatures are seen as much as 3C below normal for the UK, France, Benelux and Germany next week.
The leading French grain hub of Rouen exported less than 70,000 MT of grains in the week through to May 13 - the lowest volume since the holiday shortened last week in December. The volume included 38,000 MT of feed barley to China, 26,000 MT of wheat for Spain and 1,750 MT of wheat destined for the UK.
Defra reported that UK wheat stocks (excluding on farm stocks in Scotland and Northern Ireland) were up 49% year-on-year as at the end of February at 6.4 MMT. Barley stocks were up 21% at 2.2 MMT. Both stock levels were the highest since at least 2008, and the wheat figure means that almost 39% of last year's production is still here unused.
They said that 68% of total UK grain stocks were still being held on farm.
Well that's the floodgates open again then I hear you cry.
The carefully worded statement that accompanied the announcement said that the move would provide Russian agricultural producers with additional funds to carry out the spring sowing campaign.
Is that a little admission that spring plantings are in trouble?
Elsewhere I read of "talk" that the Russians might set their new crop intervention price at levels that are higher than current world market prices.
Why would they do that, unless everything wasn't as rosy as they are making out?
Yesterday the Ag Ministry said that winterkill wasn't as bad as they had earlier thought, reducing their estimate from 1.8 million ha to 1.3 million ha.
They stood by their original forecast for a total grain crop of 100 MMT. A nice round number that is don't you think? I'm surprised that they didn't raise their estimate, what will half a million hectares of less winterkill than expected.
Meanwhile in Ukraine, the latest official statements place 88% of winter grains in good to satisfactory condition. Yet Mike Lee's recent Crop Tour of Ukraine "called a slightly different assessment with 62% good and satisfactory, 34% poor and 5% very poor" his public blog states.
You won't be surprised to hear that his assessment of things in Russia weren't as bullish as those of their Ministry of Lying either.
Mike's second crop tour of Ukraine and Russia, when he looks at spring plantings as well as developing winter crop conditions, will surely be a must read.
You can subscribe to that for a very modest fee. Find out more here: Where do I sign?
14/05/15 -- Soycomplex: May beans went off the board 12 cents lower, other months though were little changed. A Bloomberg survey of 32 traders and analysts found only two that were bullish on soybean price prospects. Eight were neutral and the remaining 22 were bearish - including me! Informa estimated 2015 US soybean plantings at 87.2 million acres, which is a figure 2.6 million higher than one that the USDA are currently using. It is also up 1.9 million from their April estimate. The US weather outlook remains non-threatening. The average trade guess for tomorrow's NOPA crush for April is 148.2 million bushels according to a Bloomberg survey. That's down sharply from 162.8 million in March, but well above 132.7 million crushed in April 2014. MDA CropCast raised their forecast for the world soybean crop in 2015/16 by 4.8 MMT to 302.7 MMT. That included increases of 4.5 MMT for Brazil to 98.3 MMT and an extra 1.5 MMT for Argentina to 57.0 MMT. They were unchanged on their ideas for this year's US crop, pegging that at 3.823 billion bushels, a 3.6% decline on last year's record. The soybean:corn price ratio on new crop ended the day at 2.44:1 versus the 7-month high of 2.53:1 set earlier in the week. Weekly export sales on beans came in at 136,600 MT on old crop and a modest 88,000 MT on the new crop. May 15 Soybeans closed at $9.63, down 12 cents; Jul 15 Soybeans closed at $9.57, down 1/4 cent; May 15 Soybean Meal closed at $310.60, up $8.90; May 15 Soybean Oil closed at 33.00, down 11 points.
Corn: The corn market closed around 5-6 cents higher, helped by wheat which posted its best daily gains in 3 years, according to Benson Quinn. Informa estimated US corn plantings this year at 88.7 million acres, which is the same as the USDA's March planting intentions forecast. The Bloomberg survey into traders/analysts views on the outlook for corn prices was more evenly spread than it was for beans. The survey found 9 people bullish, 11 bearish and 12 that were neutral. MDA CropCast raised their forecast for the world corn crop by 8.3 MMT from last week to 959.9 MMT, a drop of 1.7% on last year. They were unchanged on their forecast for this year's US crop at 13.802 billion bushels, a fall of 3.9% compared to last year's record. They raised their view on Ukraine surprisingly, up 1.9 MMT to 26.2 MMT, and also Russia, up by 0.7 MMT to 11.5 MMT. Argentina was increased by 1 MMT to 25.1 MMT, but Brazil was cut by 2.6 MMT to 72.7 MMT. They forecast EU corn yields this year at an average 6.8 MT/ha, which is considerably lower than MARS (7.22 MT/ha) and the USDA (7.18 MT/ha). Russia said that its 2015 corn crop was 65.5% planted on 1.8 million ha, the same area as this time a year ago. The USDA reported weekly export sales of 370,000 MT for delivery in 2014/15 - a marketing year low. Sales of 2,600 MT for 2015/16 were less than impressive as well. Shipments were good however at 1.1 MMT, including Japan (358,400 MT), Mexico (217,100 MT), South Korea (114,200 MT), Colombia (110,100 MT), Saudi Arabia (75,700 MT) and Peru (43,700 MT). China sold 31% of the US corn stocks offered up for auction today, but only 16.5% of the 1.72 MMT of the domestic corn on offer. May 15 Corn closed at $3.61, up 5 cents; Jul 15 Corn closed at $3.68, up 5 3/4 cents.
Wheat: The wheat market closed sharply higher. "The long predicted day of reckoning for the wheat short finally took place, with prices ripping through resistance levels with little trouble and settling within a penny of daily highs. Less encouraging long range forecasts and talk of strengthening El Nino led to buy stops/large scale short covering," said Benson Quinn. "The National Weather Service’s CPC outlook released this morning estimated the odds of El Nino continuing through the summer at 90%, and through the rest of 2015 at 80%," they added. "It has been raining cats and dogs in the Great Plains. Two to 3 times the average rainfall has developed in Texas, Oklahoma and southern Kansas in the recent 30 days. This has led to flash flooding in portions of the southern Great Plains. The warm, humid environment also promotes the spread of rust and other wheat disease. The forecast continues very wet. A trough of low pressure has become entrenched in the Southwest United States, spinning out waves of showers into the Southern Great Plains. The unusually wet weather in the US heartland is linked to El Nino," said Martell Crop Projections. Much of this rain will be too late to do anything but cause problems for US winter wheat. El Nino also typically would reduce wheat production in Australia's eastern states. In other news, MDA CropCast increased their forecast for the world wheat crop this year by 4.1 MMT to 713.7 MMT. US all wheat was pegged 2.1 MMT higher at 60.3 MMT. There were decreases though for Russia, Ukraine, Brazil and Australia. Tunisia bought 142 TMT of durum and 100 TMT of milling wheat in a tender, thought most likely to be of Black Sea origin. Weekly export sales came in at 115,400 MT on old crop and 142,000 MT on new crop. The Bloomberg survey found 13 traders who were bullish on wheat, 10 bearish and 9 neutral. May 15 CBOT Wheat closed at $5.01 3/4, up 20 3/4 cents; May 15 KCBT Wheat closed at $5.35, up 25 cents; May 15 MGEX Wheat closed at $5.57, up 25 3/4 cents.
14/05/15 -- Wheat rebounded from recent losses to close with decent gains on short-covering/bargain hunting. Corn was also higher, but only to the tune of a euro or two, and rapeseed closed a little lower.
At the finish, May 15 London wheat was up GBP2.80/tonne at GBP108.45/tonne, Sep 15 Paris wheat ended EUR5.00/tonne higher at EUR176.00, Jun 15 Paris corn rose EUR1.00/tonne to EUR155.00/tonne whilst Aug 15 Paris rapeseed fell EUR1.25/tonne to close at EUR354.50/tonne.
US wheat markets were sharply higher as fund money got spooked into covering in some of their massive short position with Chicago wheat posting its largest one day gain in three years, according to Benson Quinn.
That was probably down to a combination of factors: the strengthening El Nino, excessive wetness suddenly pounding US winter wheat on the Plains just before the harvest begins, there was even talk today of a hot/dry pattern beginning to emerge in Russia.
The latter would be a particularly interesting development, should it transpire.
Spring planting in Russia is only 42.3% done so far on 13.1 million ha, which is 1.8 million ha less than this time last year. Spring wheat is only 22.3% planted.
Weather models that I am looking at do indeed forecast temperatures to be well above normal in the 8-15 day time frame. However, most of the country, apart from the Southern Region, is also forecast to get above average rainfall across the coming 15 days. Watch this space for developments on that story...
The Russian Ag Ministry are predictably keen to keep a bullish spin on things. They've reduced their estimate for the total winter grains are that suffered from winter kill from 1.8 million ha to 1.3 million, or 7.8% of the total planted area. That's about a "normal" percentage.
They maintained their forecast for grain production in 2015 at a nice round 100 MMT. Not everyone is quite so optimistic, the USDA were at 90.8 MMT this week, including 53.5 MMT of wheat.
MDA CropCast today trimmed their forecast for Russia's wheat crop this year by 1.1 MMT to 52.8 MMT. They also lopped 1.4 MMT off their estimate for wheat production in Ukraine, bringing their figure down to 21.6 MMT versus the USDA's 22.0 MMT prediction.
Incidentally, in addition they pared back their outlook on both the Russian and Ukraine barley crops too, reducing those by 1.8 MMT and 2.1 MMT respectively to 16.7 MMT and 6.5 MMT. The USDA are even lower at 16.5 MMT and 6.2 MMT, a drop of 18% and 34% on production last year.
In other news, Brussels announced that they'd issued 477 TMT worth of soft wheat export licences this past week, taking the season to date total to over 28.4 MMT with 7 weeks of the campaign remaining. Add on wheat flour and durum wheat exports too and the "all wheat" total is over 30 MMT. Barley exports are now past 8 MMT, and those for corn have almost reached 3 MMT.
Note that in all of the past 5 seasons total exports of soft wheat have exceeded the total volume of licences issued, according to the HGCA.
Strategie Grains today increased their forecast for total EU soft wheat exports in 2014/15 to 32.2 MMT. Things don't look quite so promising for 2015/16 however, they reduced their estimate for exports there by 2.6 MMT to 28.6 MMT. Carryout at the end of next season was raised by 1.6 MMT to 17.5 MMT, which is far higher than the 14 MMT predicted by the USDA on Tuesday.
The anticipated imminent end to the hefty export duty on Russian wheat could mean another 1.9 MMT of the grain being exported between now and the end of the season, according to Rusagrotrans. That would hike Russia's 2014/15 total wheat exports to around 22 MMT.
13/05/15 -- Soycomplex: Beans managed to regain some of yesterday's losses, with the best advancement coming, as you might expect, on the nears. That's where the tightness is, and that's where the big US exports are. Further down the line though, the picture looks bearish. El Nino seems to be on the way, and that is typically a rain maker for the Midwest in the summer months. The Rosario Grain Exchange upped their forecast for the Argentine soybean crop by 600,000 MT to 59.6 MMT. That's now close to the Buenos Aires Exchange's estimate of 60 MMT and eclipses the new 58.5 MMT forecast from the USDA, already making that yesterday's news. The US weather forecast remains friendly, soybean planting is well ahead of schedule, and there isn't anything threatening on the horizon yet. Chinese imports of a monster 77.5 MMT in 2015/16 may be a bit ambitious from the USDA, with their economic growth stuttering. That's an average of 6.5 MMT for every single month of the year. Trade estimates for the April NOPA crush due out on Friday average 148 million bushels, down sharply from the record 162.82 million crushed in March. May 15 Soybeans closed at $9.75, up 8 cents; Jul 15 Soybeans closed at $9.57 1/4, up 1 3/4 cents; May 15 Soybean Meal closed at $301.70, down $0.80; May 15 Soybean Oil closed at 33.11, up 30 points.
Corn: The corn market closed mixed, with fresh news thin on the ground now that yesterday's USDA report has been digested. The US Energy Dept reported weekly ethanol production at 921,000 barrels/day, up from 881,000 bpd the previous week. US ethanol inventories fell 463,000 barrels to 20.3 million barrels. The sharply lower US dollar was a supportive factor. The French Ag Ministry estimated corn plantings there to be down 7.6% this year at 1.71 million ha. Russian corn planting is said to be 62% complete on 1.7 million ha versus 1.8 million ha this time a year ago. Taiwan bought 65,000 MT of Brazilian corn for Jun/Jul shipment in a tender. Tonight's close puts the new crop soybean:corn price ratio at 2.47:1, down from 2.48:1 yesterday and a 7-month high of 2.53:1 set earlier in the week. US plantings are going very well, and the weather outlook offers a friendly tone, although wetness may have slowed up planting progress a bit this week. It looks like a summer El Nino weather event is on the cards. As well as bringing good rains to the US corn belt, this would also typically keep heat stress away. May 15 Corn closed at $3.56, down 1 cent; Jul 15 Corn closed at $3.62 1/4, up 1 1/4 cents.
Wheat: The wheat market closed with small gains on all three exchanges. The now heavily tipped arrival of a "substantial" El Nino event is one of interest to the wheat market. That would typically bring wet weather to the US, and that is what they are getting at the moment. Whilst that might benefit corn and soybeans just after they've been planted, it could be detrimental to US wheat just before it's due to get harvested. El Nino also frequently causes crop losses in Australia, particularly in the east of the country. More than 80% of the Australian state of Queensland is now said to be in drought - the largest percentage on record. Russia's spring wheat crop is said to be 18.9% planted on 2.5 million ha versus 3.1 million ha a year ago. Tunisia said that it's grain crop would fall from 2.3 MMT to 1.5-1.8 MMT due to lack of rain in April. South Korea bought 20,000 MT of optional origin feed wheat in a tender. Conab forecast the Brazilian 2015/16 wheat crop at 7.05 MMT, up 18% on last year despite a 5.3% decline in planted area. The CWB said that Canadian spring wheat planting is progressing at the fastest pace in a decade. Jul 15 CBOT Wheat closed at $4.81 1/2, up 1 cent; Jul 15 KCBT Wheat closed at $5.09 1/2, up 1 3/4 cents; Jul 15 MGEX Wheat closed at $5.40, up 3 1/2 cents.
13/05/15 -- EU grains closed mostly lower, with both the pound and euro firming against a suddenly weaker US dollar.
The day ended with May 15 London wheat down GBP1.70/tonne at GBP105.65/tonne (a new 5-year low for a front month), Sep 15 Paris wheat stumbled EUR2.50/tonne lower to EUR171.00/tonne, Jun 15 Paris corn fell EUR1.00/tonne to EUR154.00/tonne whilst Aug 15 Paris rapeseed was down EUR0.50/tonne to close at EUR355.75/tonne.
The pound rose above 1.57 against the US dollar for a five month high, it also bobbed above (but didn't close at) 1.40 versus the euro - a level it has flirted with recently, but hasn't spent any prolonged time above since late 2007.
Now that the election issue has been settled there seems to be a bit more confidence about regarding the UK economic outlook.
News that UK unemployment fell to 5.5% in Q1 of 2015, down from 5.7% in the last quarter of 2014 and a bit below the 5.6% that most analysts were forecasting, was friendly for sterling. The ONS said that UK employment, at 73.5%, is at the highest levels since records began in 1971.
You will recall of course that UK wheat exports Jul/Mar were only 1.58 MMT out of the Defra estimate of an exportable surplus/free stock figure of almost 3.9 MMT. Sterling strength won't do anything to help that pace step up a gear, so it looks like we are stuck with a much larger carryover into the new 2015/16 season than we are used to.
Now that some decent rains have arrived, UK crop conditions are looking pretty good. We might not have a record wheat crop in 2015, but we should have a decent one as things stand, and the unusually large volume getting carried into the new season will make all that a challenge to move.
The last thing you want under these circumstances is a strong currency and the prospect of record production from our "noisy neighbours" across the channel - France.
The French Ag Ministry have fine-tuned their planted area estimates, pegging soft wheat plantings at 5.18 million hectares - the highest since 1936 and up 3.3% from a year ago. They haven't yet put a figure on actual production, but with FranceAgriMer telling us that 90% of the crop is in good to very good condition, the potential has to be there for this to be a record production year over there.
You may remember that ODA recently raised their French soft wheat yield forecast to 7.65 MT/ha, if that's correct then we are looking at a French soft wheat crop of over 39.6 MMT. That's up more than 2 MMT on last year and well above the average trade estimate of 38.1 MMT in a recent Bloomberg survey.
Recent rains will have helped the crop considerably, which is also the case in Germany and Poland which had been suffering from a relatively dry winter and beginning to spring.
Russia remains a wild card. They are expected to remove the export tax on wheat any day now, and shipments could therefore pick up considerably for the last couple of months of the season.
There's still a question mark over 2015 production prospects however. Currently less than 40% of the official government estimate for spring planting has been completed, with wheat planting less than 20% done.
The USDA yesterday estimated Russian wheat yields to be down 14% this year (although last year was a record, so potential this year essentially matches that of the 5-year average, they say).
Russian-based agronomist Mike Lee however thinks that yields potential this year could be down significantly more than that given all the problems growers there face this year - lack of credit, sky-high input costs etc.
Not to be outdone in insisting that everything is all right, the Ukraine Ag Minister said today that yesterday's USDA forecast for grain production there this year (wheat 22 MMT, corn 26 MMT and barley 6.2 MMT) is too low, without putting a figure on it himself.
Developments in these two countries would appear to be the bull's best hope for any sort of significant improvement in prices this year. Only time will tell if they get it.
12/05/15 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed sharply lower following the release of the May WASDE report from the USDA. In that they raised their outlook on Argentine production in 2014/15 from 57 MMT to a record 58.5 MMT. Although that will drop back to 57 MMT in 2015/16, increased output from Brazil will more than compensate for that decline. Brazil's crop in the year ahead will rise to a new record 97 MMT, they predict. The US 2015 soybean crop was estimated at 104.8 MMT, a modest 3% decline on last year's record crop, they said. US soybean exports in the current season were tweaked a little higher, up from the 48.7 MMT predicted a month ago to nearly 49 MMT. Exports in 2015/16 will fall back a touch to 48.3 MMT as Brazil re-claims the yellow jersey with foreign sales of 49.75 MMT. US new crop ending stocks of 500 million bushels were well above the average trade estimate of 443 million, and that seemed to be the headline grabbing number. 2014/15 US carryout was lowered by 20 million bushels to 350 million versus the average trade estimate of 362 million. World old crop ending stocks were revised lower by 4.0 MMT to 85.54 MMT versus the average trade guess of 90 MMT, although these are seen rising to 96.22 MMT in 2015/16. China's import needs in 2015/16 were called at a record 77.1 MMT versus 73.85 MMT in the current marketing year. Separately, Conab raised their forecast for the Brazilian 2014/15 soybean crop from 94.28 MMT to 95.07 MMT. China’s soybean imports will jump more than 50% from the previous quarter to 21.4 MMT in May-July, Oil World predicted. May 15 Soybeans closed at $9.67, down 16 cents; Jul 15 Soybeans closed at $9.55 1/2, down 18 1/2 cents; May 15 Soybean Meal closed at $302.50, down $9.60; May 15 Soybean Oil closed at 32.81, down 23 points.
Corn: The corn market closed narrowly mixed. The USDA raised their estimate for old crop ending stocks by 24 million bushels to 1.851 billion versus trade estimates of an average 1.864 billion. Their estimate for new crop production was 13.63 billion bushels with ending stocks coming in at 1.746 billion. Pre-report estimates had new crop production at 13.58 billion bushels, and carryout at 1.752 billion bushels, so there was nothing too startling there. The global 2014/15 ending stocks number was pegged at 192.50 MMT versus an average trade guess of 190 MMT. New crop ending stocks will fall a little to just under 192 MMT, the USDA said. They increased their forecast for Brazil's 2014/15 corn crop by 3 MMT from a month ago to 78 MMT due to record production potential from safrinha corn, which is now expected to account for more than 60% of the nation's output. "Brazil’s second-season corn yield is forecast at a record 5.44 tons per hectare. Precipitation has been above average in the main producing states of Mato Grosso, Goias, Mato Grosso do Sul and Parana. The precipitation and cool night-time temperatures benefitted corn as it advanced through flowering and early grain-fill stages," they said. Argentina's 2014/15 corn crop was raised by 0.5 MMT to 24.5 MMT, and production will rise again to 25 MMT in 2015/16, they forecast. China's 2015/16 corn crop was estimated at a new record 228 MMT, which is 8 MMT above their projected consumption levels next season. China's new crop import needs were pegged at 3 MMT, the same as this season. Tonight's price action means that the new crop soybean:corn price ratio has retreated from yesterday's 7-month high 2.53:1 to 2.48:1 at the close. In other news, Russia said that it's corn exports so far this season were down 31.9% on a year ago at 2.44 MMT. South Korea bought 63 TMT of optional origin corn in a tender, and Taiwan bought 130 TMT of US/Brazilian/Argentine corn. May 15 Corn closed at $3.57, down 1 1/4 cents; Jul 15 Corn closed at $3.61, up 1/2 cent.
Wheat: The wheat market closed narrowly mixed. US wheat exports in the current season were trimmed back from the 24 MMT predicted a month ago to 23.2 MMT. Yesterday's weekly export inspections report had these at 21.45 MMT so far this season (to May 7), with just three weeks now left to hit this new target. "Global wheat production is forecast down from last year’s record, but still above consumption for the third straight year. Global consumption is projected up slightly as steady growth in food use more than offsets lower feeding. Global trade is forecast lower, partly driven by larger crops in some major importing countries. US exports are projected higher, but the EU is forecast to be the world’s largest exporter for the third straight year," they said. US exports were forecast to recover to 25.5 MMT next season, although that's still significantly lower than the EU's 32.5 MMT. Canada's 2015/16 wheat exports will drop 3 MMT to 21 MMT, Russia's will decline 1.5 MMT to 20 MMT and Ukraine's are seen falling 1 MMT to 10.5 MMT. Imports will fall significantly in Iran (down 1 MMT to 5.5 MMT), Europe (down 0.8 MMT to 5.0 MMT), Morocco (down 1.4 MMT to 2.0 MMT), Thailand (down 0.5 MMT to 2.2 MMT) and Turkey (down 2.3 MMT to 3.5 MMT), they estimate. As far as production goes, decent rises are on the cards for Australia (up 2 MMT to 26 MMT), China (up nearly 4 MMT to 130 MMT), Iran (up 1 MMT to 14 MMT), Morocco (up 2.7 MMT to 7.8 MMT), Turkey (up 3.25 MMT to 18.25 MMT) and the US (up 1.7 MMT to 56.8 MMT). Output in Europe will fall by more than 6 MMT, with India's crop down nearly 6 MMT, Russia's down 5.5 MMT and Ukraine's dropping by 2.75 MMT. In other news, Algeria was said to have bought 200 TMT of durum wheat of Canadian/Mexican origin. The Canadian spring wheat crop is said to be 45% sown. The total planted area for that is seen rising 3.4% to 18 million acres this year, with the all wheat area up by 3.9% to 24.8 million acres. Russia said that it's wheat exports since the duty came in (Feb 1 to May 6) were down 60% year on year at 1.539 MMT. Season to date exports are still up 16.9% at 20.01 MMT though. May 15 CBOT Wheat closed at $4.79 1/4, up 3 cents; May 15 KCBT Wheat closed at $5.08 1/4, down 1 1/4 cents; May 15 MGEX Wheat closed at $5.26 3/4, down 1 3/4 cents.
12/05/15 -- EU grains closed mixed, but mostly with little change, save for rapeseed which closed with losses of around EUR2.00-4.00/tonne.
The day ended with May 15 London wheat up GBP0.50/tonne at GBP107.35/tonne, Sep 15 Paris wheat was unchanged at EUR173.50/tonne, Jun 15 Paris corn was down EUR1.25/tonne at EUR155.00/tonne and Aug 15 Paris rapeseed was down EUR2.75/tonne at EUR356.25/tonne.
It was a big day in terms of news, with the USDA giving us their first take of the season on crop production and demand prospects for the year that lies ahead.
Before we move onto that though, it is worth noting that they increased the size of EU wheat exports in the current 2014/15 season by 1 MMT to a new record 34.5 MMT. That helped to cut ending stocks here from the previously forecast 15.3 MMT to 14.7 MMT. Also of note with regards to the current season were increases in exports for Russia, up from 20 MMT to 21.5 MMT, and Ukraine, up from 11 MMT to 11.5 MMT. Argentina and the US had their export potential pared back by 0.5 MMT and 0.8 MMT respectively.
Looking ahead, world 2015/16 wheat production was forecast down from last year’s record, but still above consumption for the third straight year. They see output in the season ahead at 718.9 MMT, down 1% from 726.5 MMT a year ago, with consumption rising to 716.6 MMT.
They see production in Europe down 4% at 150.3 MMT this year, with exports falling 2 MMT to 32.5 MMT and ending stocks falling a little to 14.0 MMT in 2015/16.
Russia's wheat crop is forecast at 53.5 MMT this year, down 9.5% on a year ago. Following poor establishment after a dry autumn, "winter crops benefited from generous April precipitation, and early May satellite imagery reflect substantial improvement in many territories in the Central District and Volga Valley. Potential yields will depend in large part on May and June weather. Winter wheat accounts for about two-thirds of Russia’s total wheat output," they said.
"Sharp increases in the prices of fertilizer and imported agrochemicals will induce some farmers to reduce fertilizer application rates and switch to cheaper but less effective domestic chemicals. Many enterprises, however, enjoyed high profits from last year’s bumper harvest, which enabled them to purchase inputs last fall. Most independent commodity analysts do not envision a large year-to-year drop in the use of these materials," they added.
They forecast wheat production in Ukraine this year down 11% at 22 MMT.
In the 2015/16 season, their first estimate for Russia's wheat exports is 1.5 MMT less than this marketing year at 20 MMT. Ukraine's exports will drop 1 MMT to 10.5 MMT, they predict.
The EU-28 corn crop will drop more than 7% to 68.3 MMT, and imports of the grain in 2015/16 will therefore jump 50% from 8 MMT to 12 MMT, they said.
As far as barley is concerned, EU-28 exports for the current season were raised 1 MMT to 8.5 MMT, but will fall to 7.5 MMT in 2015/16. Production here this year will decline 2.5% to 58.7 MMT, they estimate.
Rapeseed production in Europe will fall nearly 11% to 21.6 MMT, they added. Separately, Oil World today raised their outlook on rapeseed production in the EU this year to 22 MMT. This 21.5 to 22 MMT is the region where most analysts are now lining up.
At home, the pound hit its best levels against the US dollar since November. Although the BoE appear to be under little pressure to raise interest rates any time soon, there's a school of thought that suggests that the recent Tory election victory, without the need to form a coalition, offers the stability that affords them the option to do so possibly a bit sooner than expected.
That won't help wheat UK exports any. These fell to 237 TMT in March, down 11% compared to February which was also of course also a shorter month. Season to date exports are 1.58 MMT out of the Defra estimate of an exportable surplus/free stock figure of almost 3.9 MMT in a season with only 3 months left to go. It is also worth noting that wheat imports in March increased to 128 TMT, and that season to date imports aren't much less than exports at 1.27 MMT.
UK barley exports in March were 183 TMT, taking the season to date total to 1.16 MMT - said to be the highest at that stage in a season in 15 years by the HGCA.
12/05/15 -- As mentioned earlier, Russia's 2015 spring planting campaign hasn't got off to the best of starts, with 9.6 million ha sown so far, down from 11.2 million this time last year. What has been seeded represents 31% of the government estimated area and includes only 1.6 million ha of wheat, or 12.1% of "plan".
The sixty million dollar question here surely has to be is this all down to a rain-hampered start to the planting season, or are the government estimates actually really "hopes" that are far too high? Problems with lack of access to credit, high seed and input costs etc have been widely reported for some time after all.
Another point to consider is are the government actually reporting the real planting progress figures anyway? Could things be further behind than this in reality? If you can deny you've got a military presence in Ukraine then you can certainly say anything you like about planting progress and forecast a 100 MMT grain crop until the cows come home (hungry).
Meanwhile, spring grain planting in Ukraine is 78% done on 5.5 million ha, down 18% versus last year according to their Ag Ministry - another one that can be economical (or is that comical) with the truth.
Would you expect either Ag Ministry to say anything else?
Dear Ag Minister, please pick one of the following options:
"Erm, look everybody, we're in bit of a pickle frankly. Our farmers can't afford to plant what we'd like them to plant, and we haven't really got the money to give to them to do it. Also if they do managed to plant anything it'll be mostly shitty own grown seed that they found in a bag at the back of the barn. Our currency is goosed too, so input costs are through the roof. So there could be a little bit of a food shortage coming up. If I were you I'd run off down the shops right now and start stockpiling whatever non-perishables you can get your hands on. Just do me a favour and leave it until me and the Missus have sorted ourselves out first. Cheers."
"Ha, ha, ha. Everything is fine. You worry too much. There's plenty of food to go round. Just look at this picture of what I'm having for my lunch here at the Presidential Palace."
"Everything would be fine if it wasn't for the bastard Russians/Americans/EU/Germans/pro-West Ukrainians. It's them that's caused this mess, not us. They're taking the food off your plates, the bastards. Let's have a nice war against them to take our minds off it. We're all in this together. I'm just as hungry as you, you know. Look, I'll take my shirt off like the President to show you..."
I for one can't wait for Mike Lee's next crop tour of Russia and Ukraine so we can hear what's really going on.
11/05/15 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed with small losses in light positioning ahead of tomorrow's May WASDE report from the USDA. News that China cut interest rates for the third time in the past six months over the weekend was seen as mildly supportive, although many doubt how effective taking another 0.25% off will be. Chinese interest rates are now 5.1%. The move came to stimulate growth, which slowed to 7.4% in 2014. In most other places that would be an achievement, but not in China where it was actually the slowest pace in 24 years. The IMF sees Chinese growth leveling out at around 6% by 2017, so the weekend interest rate change might make little difference. China of course are the world's largest soybean buyer by some considerable distance, accounting for around two thirds of global trade in the oilseed. The USDA reported weekly soybean export inspections of 263,263 MT, which were better than a year ago and last week. Indonesia, Pakistan and Mexico were the largest homes. Aboive raised their forecast for the 2014/15 Brazilian soybean crop from 92.3 MMT to 92.7 MMT. Soybean exports were kept unchanged at 48 MMT. After the close the USDA reported soybean plantings in the US had jumped from 13% complete to 31% done in the past week. That's better than 18% a year ago and 20% for the 5-year average. All eyes are now on the weather, which has a wetter lean to it, and tomorrow's WASDE report. Estimates for that include an average of 3.829 billion bushels for new crop US production, down 3.5% on the record 3.969 billion achieved last year. 2014/15 US ending stocks are estimated at 362 million bushels compared to 370 million in April. World old crop ending stocks are estimated at 90 MMT versus 89.6 MMT in April. May 15 Soybeans closed at $9.83, down 1 1/2 cents; Jul 15 Soybeans closed at $9.74, down 2 1/4 cents; May 15 Soybean Meal closed at $312.10, down $3.10; May 15 Soybean Oil closed at 33.04, up 24 points.
Corn: The corn market closed around 2-3 cents lower. Weekly corn export shipments came in at 1.1 MMT, a bit above last week but slightly below the same week last year. China's interest rate move is unlikely to do anything for their corn imports, which are seen at only 2 MMT next season, most of which will probably come from South America/Ukraine. China announced that they will auction 3.83 MMT of state-owned corn stocks this week. APK Inform said that Ukraine seaports shipped out 2.5 MMT of grains in April, the majority of which (1.9 MMT) was corn as they now major on that grain. Ukraine spring plantings of corn are said to be 72% complete on 3.2 million ha, according to their Ag Ministry. Israel tendered for 85,000 MT of optional origin corn, and Taiwan are in for 130,000 MT of similar for June/July shipment. Safras e Mercado increased their projected Brazilian corn production estimate to a record 82.3 MMT. That's way ahead of the USDA's current estimate of only 75 MMT. They of course get a chance to alter that tomorrow, but it's probably unlikely that they would go for a hike of 7.3 MMT all in one go. The Safras figure comes despite a smaller planted area than a year ago. Trade forecasts for Tuesday's WASDE report have US 2014/15 corn ending stocks at 1.864 billion bushels, up from 1.827 billion in the April WASDE report. US 2015 corn production is estimated at 13.580 billion bushels, from within a range of forecasts of 13.257-13.944 billion and down 4.5% from 14.216 billion a year ago. World ending stocks are estimated to grow by 1.5 MMT from the April WASDE report to 190 MMT. After the close the USDA reported US 2015 corn planting at 75% complete, up from 55% done a year ago. Progress this time last year was only 55% and the 5-year average pace is 57%. Corn planting could be hampered by showers and wet field conditions this wee though, say Martell Crop Projections. Summer-like temperatures this past week will also have promoted rapid corn germination, they added. The USDA now say that 29% of the crop is emerged, up from 9% a week ago, 16% a year ago and 24% for the 5-year average. May 15 Corn closed at $3.58 1/4, down 1/4 cent; Jul 15 Corn closed at $3.60 1/2, down 2 1/2 cents.
Wheat: The wheat market closed with small losses. A weaker US dollar was supportive. Weekly export inspections of 378,407 MT were a bit better than last week, but well below year ago levels. Year to date inspections of 21.45 MMT are down almost 28% on this time a year ago. "Hard red winter wheat farms in the Southern Great Plains would continue wet for the 3rd straight week. Soaking rainfall in Kansas disrupted the wheat tour last week causing muddy field conditions. Kansas producers would have preferred the heavy soaking rain earlier this spring, as wheat development has already advanced into the heading stage. Heavy, recurring showers Great Plains and Midwest may be consequence of a strengthening El Nino. This climate anomaly is a heavy rain maker for the central United States," said Martell Crop Projections. Have these rains done a lot of good, or have they generally come a little bit to late? The USDA tonight raised the proportion of the US winter wheat crop rated good to excellent only one percentage point to 44%, but up sharply on 30% a year ago. Crop maturity is ahead of last year (42%) and the 5-year average (45%) with 56% of the crop at the heading stage. Spring wheat planting meanwhile raced to 87% compete versus 75% a week ago, only 33% a year ago and 51% for the 5-year average. ProZerno forecast Russia's 2014/15 wheat exports at 20.1 MMT, which is lower than the USDA's current 20.5 MMT estimate. The Russian analysts see 2014/15 wheat carryover at a record 8.1 MMT, and the USDA are even higher at 8.6 MMT. ProZerno's forecast for Russia's 2015 wheat crop is 54.4 MMT, down from 59.1 MMT a year ago. The USDA will give us their first forecasts for Russian and global 2015 production levels tomorrow. The large carryover that ProZerno are forecasting would take total wheat availability in Russia up to the same level (62.5 MMT) as a year ago. The Russian Ag Ministry said that spring wheat planting there is only 12.1% complete so far. The US reportedly donated 100 TMT of wheat to Jordan to help with the Syrian refugee crisis. Brazil's Emater are forecasting wheat planting in Rio Grande do Sul to fall 19% this year. Despite that drop, output could actually increase 36% if the weather co-operates as last season was a complete disaster, they say. Planting in RGdS is just getting underway, and is already around 30% complete in Parana, says Dr Cordonnier. If they get favourable weather then Brazil could achieve a national crop of a record 7.5 MMT in 2015/16, he adds. May 15 CBOT Wheat closed at $4.76 1/4, down 1/4 cent; May 15 KCBT Wheat closed at $5.09 1/2, down 1 cent; May 15 MGEX Wheat closed at $5.25 1/2, down 3 cents.
11/05/15 -- EU grains closed mixed, mostly higher in Paris and lower in London after the pound rose to its best finish against the US dollar since before Christmas and was also higher versus the euro.
At the finish, May 15 London wheat was down GBP1.10/tonne at GBP106.85/tonne, Sep 15 Paris wheat ended up EUR0.25/tonne at EUR173.50, Jun 15 Paris corn rose EUR1.50/tonne to EUR156.25/tonne whilst Aug 15 Paris rapeseed jumped EUR4.75/tonne to close at EUR359.00/tonne.
London wheat has now taken out the September lows and closed at the lowest level on a front month in almost 5 years.
Large carryover stocks at the end of the 2014/15 season, and the prospect for increased wheat production in the US and Canada, along with a decent crop in Europe (and quite possibly a record large one in France) are creating a bearish vibe.
Prospects in Russia and Ukraine currently (and more importantly officially) don't look as bad as many feared back in the winter either, with production estimates down but not drastically so. For now at least, the market also seems fairly relaxed about the slow spring planting pace in both of these "pile it high and sell it cheap" countries. The imminent removal of the Russian export duty on wheat is another bearish factor.
ProZerno estimated Russia's 2014 wheat crop at 59.1 MMT, falling 7.8% to 54.4 MMT in 2015. They actually forecast an increase in the planted area of 3.5% to 25.9 million ha, but see yields dropping from 2.5 MT/ha to 2.24 MT/ha.
They see the sharp drop off in Russian exports since the duty was introduced though meaning that carryover stocks of a record 8.1 MMT will lift the total wheat supply in Russia to 62.5 MMT in 2015/16 - which is exactly the same volume available in 2014/15 whent wheat stocks a year ago to carry into this season were substantially less. Russia's wheat consumption needs in 2014/15 are pegged at 34.3 MMT, a similar requirement next season would leave 28.2 MMT of wheat left over for export and/or carryover stocks.
Russia's wheat exports so far this season stand at around the 20 MMT mark.
Russia's 2015 spring planting campaign hasn't got off to the best of starts though, with 9.6 million ha sown so far, down from 11.2 million this time last year. What has been seeded represents 31% of the government estimated area and includes only 1.6 million ha of wheat, or 12.1% of "plan".
Meanwhile, spring grain planting in Ukraine is 78% done on 5.5 million ha, according to their Ag Ministry. This time last year spring plantings were said to be completed on 6.7 million ha, so they're currently 18% behind last year's pace.
Switching back to Europe, Swiss-based barley traders Evergrain said that spring barley crop prospects in France were excellent helped by recent rains, and raised their yield forecast to 6.7 MT/ha versus the 3-year average of 6.5 MT/ha.
They also increased their yield estimates for Germany, England, Denmark and the Czech Republic to levels which are essentially broadly in line with the recent average.
08/05/15 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed with small gains on the day and higher for the week. The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange say that the Argentine soybean crop is 68.6% harvested, up 6.8 points on the week and 4.6 points ahead of a year ago. Their estimate for production was maintained at a record 60 MMT. The Argentine Ag Ministry said that farmers there are 31% sold on beans versus 25% done this time last year. The Rosario Grain Exchange say that Argentine soybean yields in the core area have been coming in 25% ahead of last year. Chinese customs data puts their soybean imports at 5.31 MMT in April versus 4.49 MMT in March. Year on year imports for the first 4 months of 2015 are down 4% at 20.9 MMT. China will have to import 35.3 MMT of soybeans for the remainder of the year (up 14% from the 30.9 MMT imported in the same period last year), in order to match the USDA's forecast. This is fuelling ideas that China will not reach estimates on imports, said Benson Quinn. The trade will be looking to see how soybean planting got on this week in Monday's crop progress report from the USDA. Last week plantings were 13% complete, up from only 2% a week previously, and above both last year (5%) and the previous 5-year average of 9% done. I guess that plantings could now be around 25% complete. After that we get the WASDE report on Tuesday. Estimates for that include an average of 3.829 billion bushels for new crop US production, down 3.5% on the record 3.969 billion achieved last year. 2014/15 US ending stocks are estimated at 362 million bushels compared to 370 million in April. World old crop ending stocks are estimated at 90 MMT versus 89.6 MMT in April. The Commitment of Traders report shows fund money reducing their net short on beans by the best part of 3k contracts for the week through to Tuesday night. Their net short is now around 29k lots. May 15 Soybeans closed at $9.84 1/2, up 3 cents; Jul 15 Soybeans closed at $9.76 1/4, up 1 1/4 cents; May 15 Soybean Meal closed at $315.20, down $2.20; May 15 Soybean Oil closed at 32.80, up 49 points. For the week, front month beans were up 16 cents, meal was the weakest link adding just half a dollar whilst oil gained 136 points.
Corn: The corn market closed slightly higher on the day, but a little lower for the week. The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange said that the Argentine corn harvest only advanced 1.1 points to 29.5% done this week. They were unchanged on their production estimate at 25 MMT. The Argentine Ag Ministry said that farmers there are 43% sold on their corn crops versus 34% done this time last year. Taiwan purchased one cargo of optional origin corn for Oct/Nov shipment in a tender. FranceAgriMer said that the 2015 French corn crop was 82% planted, up 7 points in a week and 4 ahead of this time last year. Benson Quinn suggest that US corn plantings could be 70-75% complete as of Sunday night, although other estimates I have seen are as high as 85%. Trade forecasts for Tuesday's WASDE report have US 2014/15 corn ending stocks at 1.864 billion bushels, up from 1.827 billion in the April WASDE report. US 2015 corn production is estimated at 13.580 billion bushels, from within a range of forecasts of 13.257-13.944 billion and down 4.5% from 14.216 billion a year ago. World ending stocks are estimated to grow by 1.5 MMT from the April WASDE report to 190 MMT. The USDA are expected to add 2 MMT to the Brazilian crop and 1 MMT to the Argentine crop, according to Benson Quinn. China's CNGOIC said yesterday that the country's corn imports will fall to just 2 MMT in 2015/16, half of what they are expected to buy in the current season. China's sorghum imports will be more than four times higher than that at 8.2 MMT (up from 8.0 MMT this season), as their quest for alternative grains to corn continues, they added. Their own corn crop is forecast at a record high this year, and government stocks will build to burdensome levels, they predict. AgRural raised their forecast for the Brazilian corn harvest in the centre-south of the country to 45.8 MMT from 42.1 MMT previously. The EU has authorised 7.95 MMT of corn for import so far this season, down 35% compared to 12.3 MMT this time last year. Fund money continues to sell corn short, and now has a net liability of almost 117k contracts. May 15 Corn closed at $3.58 1/2, up 3/4 cent; Jul 15 Corn closed at $3.63, up 1 1/2 cents. For the week, May 15 was down 1 1/4 cents.
Wheat: The wheat market closed higher on the day and also for the week across all three exchanges. The Wheat Quality Council's crop tour pegged the Kansas wheat crop at 288.5 million bushels. That's 17% up on last year but around 10 million below trade expectations. A Kansas farmer told Bloomberg that April rains had arrived just in the nick of time to help save the state's wheat crop. "If it wasn’t for the rain starting about three weeks ago, we would have hardly anything. It was that critical. We were on the verge of disaster again,” he was quoted as saying. The Council's production figure is better than last year's 246.4 million but below the 313.6 million that is the 5-year average. Quality issues with what they have seen were also reported to be widespread. This will have heavily short fund money a little anxious. Tonight's Commitment of Traders report shows the spec community to have added 4,496 contracts to their already record net-short position in Chicago wheat for the week through to Tuesday night. They are now short of more than 111k lots. "Hard red wheat in the southern Great Plains is getting socked with heavy rainfall, developing into too much of a good thing in Texas and Oklahoma where flooding has developed," said Martell Crop Projections. "A trough of low pressure became entrenched over the Southwest United States spinning out wave after wave of showers into the southern Great Plains. Oklahoma and West Texas rainfall has added up to 6-8 inches but up to 10 inches locally in the past 2 weeks. The forecast is still wet in the Southern Great Plains. However, rainfall next week would be less heavy than previously," they added. Too much rain isn't the only thing for the shorts to be concerned about. "Potential freezing temperatures into Tuesday morning will be watched as they may slide far enough south to catch portions of the hard red winter wheat crop in western Nebraska and north west Kansas," said Benson Quinn. The Argentine Ag Ministry said that farmers there are 72% sold on their wheat versus 50% done this time last year. May 15 CBOT Wheat closed at $4.76 1/2, up 10 3/4 cents; May 15 KCBT Wheat closed at $5.10 1/2, up 11 3/4 cents; May 15 MGEX Wheat closed at $5.28 1/2, up 10 1/2 cents. For the week that puts CBOT wheat 6 1/2 cents higher, with Kansas up 17 1/4 cents and MGEX rising 8 1/4 cents.
08/05/15 -- EU grains closed mixed. London wheat was lower across the board following a sharp rally in sterling after it became clear that an outright Conservative win in the General Election was likely. None of this hung parliament or coalition nonsense.
Meanwhile the humiliation of the May 15 Paris wheat contract pales into insignificance the combined suffering of Ed Milliband, Ed Balls and Nick Clegg today.
The day ended with May 15 London wheat down GBP1.40/tonne at GBP107.90/tonne, May 15 Paris wheat crashed another EUR5.50/tonne lower to EUR156.00/tonne, Jun 15 Paris corn fell EUR0.50/tonne to EUR154.75/tonne whilst Aug 15 Paris rapeseed added EUR2.25/tonne to close at EUR354.25/tonne.
For the week that puts London wheat GBP3.90/tonne weaker, and within pennies of the lowest close on a front month since the summer of 2010.
If you think that's bad, spare a thought for those long-holders of May 15 Paris wheat. That's suffered a whopping EUR22/tonne loss in the past week, with EUR15/tonne of that coming in the past two sessions alone. We haven't seen a capitulation of that magnitude in a single week for many moons - and possibly ever - in the case of Paris wheat.
The May 15 contract goes off the board on Monday, so at least its pain will be over soon. Paris corn closed the week EUR1.25/tonne higher than it began it, and Paris rapeseed finished the week exactly even.
The spread between old crop May 15 and new crop Nov 15 has now widened to GBP11.10/tonne from GBP8.35/tonne a week ago in the case of London wheat. Interestingly, there's a further GBP9.00/tonne, or 7.6%, on offer to carry your new crop wheat (and even your old crop too!) all the way into Nov 16.
The premium on Dec 16 Paris wheat over the Dec 15 position is EUR10/tonne, or 5.7%, and the Jul 16 Chicago wheat contract is tonight paying 11.3% more than the Jul 15 position.
FranceAgriMer cut their good to very good rating on the French winter wheat crop by one point to 90%, but that's still far higher than 74% this time last year. Winter barley ratings also fell one point to 89% versus 73% a year ago. Spring barley ratings rose one point in the good to very good category to 96%.
Corn planting was estimated at 82% done, up 7 points in a week and 4 ahead of this time last year. They said that 7% of the winter wheat crop is now at the heading stage, up from only 1% a week ago but down from 14% this time a year ago.
The market is now looking to the fairly imminent arrival of new crop wheat, whilst glancing over it's shoulder at the large volume of old crop still being carried.
There's evidence that old crop exports are finally slowing down (on an EU-basis at least - UK exports never really got going at all). Brussels only issued 273 TMT worth of soft wheat export licences this past week, down from 587 TMT the previous week. Still, season to date exports now stand at 28 MMT, up 11% versus 25.2 MMT a year ago.
Russia's spring planting campaign is now 31% complete on 9.6 million hectares, that's 14% less than the 11.2 million ha that had been sown this time last year. Spring wheat planting is only 12% done, although more than half of the spring barley and corn crops have now been sown.
Rusagrotrans estimated Russia's May grain exports to fall to 0.9-1.2 MMT versus 1.35 MMT in April. A Russian newspaper said the the existing and punitive wheat export duty will be replaced with one of just a token USD1/tonne starting on Jul 1, provided that wheat prices remain below RUB12,000/tonne, which is currently the equivalent of around USD236/tonne. New crop offers for 12.5% Russian milling wheat are currently well below USD200/tonne.
The market will be looking to see how US farmers have done with their corn and soybean plantings in Monday night's USDA report (some think that corn planting could be 75% or even 85% done as of Sunday night versus only 58% complete a year ago). After that we get the latest WASDE report to chew on on Tuesday.