Chicago Market Consolidates Heading Into The Weekend

07/12/12 -- Soycomplex: Jan 13 Soybeans closed at USD14.72 1/4, down 19 cents; Mar 13 Soybeans closed at USD14.72, down 14 cents; Dec 12 Soybean Meal closed at USD450.50, down USD7.50; Dec 12 Soybean Oil closed at 50.82, down 5 points. Having gone into today's open outcry session over 50 cents higher on beans and USD16 firmer on meal then some pre-weekend profit-taking was the order of the day. Despite today's losses beans still closed the week with net gains of 33 1/4 cents, with meal up USD8.10 and oil adding 142 points. Very strong world demand for all three products was highlighted by another round of robust export sales yesterday. Fund selling was estimated at around 4,000 soybean contracts on the day despite the USDA announcing the sale of 115,000 MT of soybeans to China before the opening bell. Rumour suggests that they may have purchased more than just a couple of cargoes. Argentine soybean planting still lags at 54% complete compared to 69% a year ago, according to the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange. Next Tuesday we get the latest WASDE report from the USDA. In amongst all the data the trade will be looking to see if they raise US soybean export hopes seeing as 78% of the current projections is already either shipped or on the books. Soyoil exports will also need to be increased as the target for these has been exceeded already. Both point to a reduction in 2012/13 US soybean ending stocks from the already tight 140 billion predicted last month. A Reuters survey suggests that they may trim another 10 million off this figure, further encroaching on their comfort zone. We shall see.

Corn: Dec 12 Corn closed at USD7.32 3/4, down 15 cents; Mar 13 Corn closed at USD7.37 1/4, down 14 1/4 cents. For the week Dec 12 corn fell 15 1/4 cents with another week of very poor export sales hanging over the market. Funds were said to have dumped an estimated 11,000 contracts on the day. Taiwan bought 60 TMT of Brazilian corn overnight at levels said to be around USD25/tonne cheaper than US origin material. The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange say that only 55% of the Argentine corn crop has been planted versus 69% a year ago. That has the trade wondering if the USDA may revise downwards it's forecast for Argentine corn production on Tuesday. They currently go 28 MMT, but other analysts such as Michael Cordonnier are lining up as low as 22.5 MMT. The average trade guess for Tuesday is 26 MMT. US corn exports meanwhile are lagging the pace needed to hit USDA targets for 2012/13, so maybe there is a chance that they will raise carryout at the end of the season from last month's 647 million bushels? The average trade estimate this time round is 663 million from within a fairly wide range of guesses of 493-752 million. No change to demand from the domestic US ethanol sector is anticipated.

Wheat: Dec 12 CBOT Wheat closed at USD8.44 1/4, down 1 cent; Dec 12 KCBT Wheat closed at USD8.96, down 2 cents; Dec 12 MGEX Wheat closed at USD9.17 1/4, unchanged. For the week Chicago wheat was half a cent lower, with Kansas down 1 /12 cents and Minneapolis down 1 1/4 cents. Not a lot of change there then. Yesterday's weekly export sales were in line with trade estimates although not overly impressive. As with corn US sales need to pick up somewhat to reach the current USDA target of full season exports of 30.5 MMT. The trade is therefore expecting a small upwards revision to US ending stocks for 2012/13 in next week's USDA report. World ending stocks however are seen falling slightly, from 174.2 MMT to 173.4 MMT. The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange say that the wheat harvest in Argentina is 36% complete, placing the crop at only 10.1 MMT. That's well below the USDA's 11.5 MMT and would represent a 35% reduction on last year. The Commonwealth Bank of Australia poured cold water on ABARES surprise suggestion from earlier in the week that the country could still export almost as much wheat as it produces in 2012/13 at 20.9 MMT, coming up with a forecast of 17.9 MMT, a fall of 27% year-on-year. The CBA placed this year's Australian wheat harvest at 20.8 MMT versus 22 MMT from ABARES and 23 MMT from the USDA.

EU Wheat Ends Week With Little Movement

07/12/12 –- EU grains closed mixed, with Jan 12 London wheat down GBP0.50/tonne to GBP224.50/tonne, with benchmark May 13 down GBP0.40/tonne to GBP227.50/tonne and new crop Nov 13 unchanged at GBP198.50/tonne. Jan 13 Paris wheat rose EUR1.00/tonne to EUR268.75/tonne.

For the week there wasn't much change with Jan 12 London wheat gaining GBP0.75/tonne, May 13 adding GBP0.50/tonne and Nov 13 advancing GBP1.00/tonne. Paris wheat fell EUR0.75/tonne on the week. It was all pretty thin, and already beginning to look holiday-ish.

FranceAgriMer estimated the soft wheat area there for the 2013 harvest will increase by 2% to 4.97 million hectares. The winter barley area is seen rising 6.2% to 1.05 million hectares and the winter OSR area is seen declining 7.3% to 1.484 million hectares.

A report on Reuters suggested that 25%, and maybe even more, of the US winter wheat area is at risk of abandonment due to an ongoing drought on the Great Plains.

"Snow cover remains very limited across the US, due to strong warmth and a lack of any significant precipitation. In fact, many cities in the Midwest are breaking or approaching records for the longest stretch of days with no measurable snowfall. The lack of snowfall across the Plains leaves the winter wheat crop vulnerable to winterkill, especially given the extensive dryness across the region that has hampered proper establishment of the crop," say MDA CropCast.

Conditions in Ukraine are more promising, with 92% of winter crops rated good/satisfactory, according to the Ministry. "Snow cover has increased significantly across west central Ukraine and eastern Belarus and even heavier snowfall is expected in these areas over the next week," MDA CropCast add.

According to Ministry data, only 7% of the emerged winter wheat is in a weak condition against 34% at the same date in 2011.

Ukraine says that it has exported 12.2 MMT of grains so far this season, including 5.6 MMT of wheat, 4.7 MMT of corn and 1.8 MMT of barley. That takes them above their suggested limit on wheat. There are suggestions that privately the Ministry are telling Ukraine traders "that's your lot" as far as wheat exports are concerned.

Ukraine exported 3 MMT of grains in November, that is expected to drop to around 2 MMT this month, the majority of which will be corn.

Unlike Ukraine, Russia doesn't have a sizable corn crop to market. It's grain exports are therefore seen dwindling to only around half a million tonnes this month and next as wheat availability dries up. ProZerno estimated Russia’s 2012/13 wheat exports at 9.9 MMT, down more than half on the 21.4 MMT shipped in 2011/12.

According to Russia’s Agriculture Ministry 15.8 million hectares of the planned winter cropping area of 16 million has now been sown. Winter plantings in 2011 were 16.8 million hectares. Around 15% of the 2012 area might not make it through the winter, which is about double the normal rate, according to local analysts IKAR.

In a first look at prospects for 2013/14 SovEcon estimated next season's Russian grain crop at 81-87 MMT versus a Ministry estimate of around 75 MMT for 2012. The IGC estimate a 4% increase in global wheat production in 2013/14 from the 654 MMT that they forecast this season's crop at last week.

Elsewhere, the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange say that the wheat harvest there has advanced to 36.2% complete, up 10.5 points from a week ago, and only just behind the 39.5% of a year ago. They only estimate production at 10.1 MMT, well below the USDA's 11.5 MMT forecast. Heavy rain and flooding has hit both yields and quality this year.

Lunchtime News

07/12/12 -- The overnight electronic market sees beans 4-6 cents firmer, with corn and wheat both down around 2-3 cents.

The soycomplex is the strongest following another week of monster export sales. For the week so far we have beans up 57 1/4 cents including the overnight session, with meal up USD16 and soyoil gaining 154 points. Corn meanwhile is 3 cents lower on the week so far, with wheat unchanged.

We have the tug-of-war between rampant US sales of not just beans, but meal and oil as well against the spectre of large South American crops to come.

The former seem to be winning the price direction war this week. As mentioned earlier we are only seven weeks off hitting the USDA's full season export target for beans based on this week's sales, and for soyoil the 2012/13 projection has already been passed. All this only 13 weeks into the marketing year.

Soymeal sales aren't looking too shabby either. Yesterday's sales for meal were nearly 10 times what is needed on a weekly basis to meet the USDA’s 2012/13 expectations.

For wheat there are a few supportive factors around too. Ukraine are done exporting wheat, and Russia are now only likely to feature in a cameo role.

After an unusually warm and dry autumn, wheat in Russia's southern district is said to be poorly established and lacking in a protective snow covering to face up to what a report on Bloomberg yesterday said could be the coldest winter in 20 years there.

Meanwhile a report on Reuters yesterday suggested that 25% of US winter wheat might be abandoned. There are only two years in the last sixty where abandonment has been that high, 1988/89 and 2001/02. US wheat is heading into winter with a lower good/excellent crop rating than either of those two years.

Gail Martell at Martell Crop Projections continues to see signs of a La Nina signal emerging. "Drought has worsened in the Southern Great Plains where La Nina produces a dry signal. Rainfall has increased sharply in the Pacific Northwest and northern California, both symptomatic of an emerging La Nina," she says.

"The ENSO signal is measured as a 3-month anomaly because it is a climate fluctuation that takes several weeks to evolve. Once established, it may persist for several weeks and even months. The ENSO signal typically is the strongest in the December-February period.

"The worst harvests in United States hard red winter wheat occur with La Nina, because of the drought it induces in the Southern Great Plains. If the La Nina signal emerges in fall, drought is even worse. Such was the case this season as wheat planting rains amounted to only 3 inches, on average, compared to 53% normally. For wheat to significantly improve, very heavy rain would be required. One inch would not be enough, as fields are dry through a very deep layer. Wheat roots are shallow from inadequate planting rains. A portion of the crop has not even germinated."

Corn meanwhile looks the poor relation of the three. Weekly US exports figures continue to disappoint. They need to average 435,000 MT/week for the rest of the season to hit USDA projections. They've only managed to beat that three times in the last 16 weeks.

Brazil may be sold out of soybeans, but it still has corn to shift. Taiwan bought 60 TMT of Brazilian corn overnight at levels said to be around USD25/tonne cheaper than US origin material.

South American logistical problems are the main weapon that the US has in it's armoury to reach the USDA's corn export targets.

Chicago Soybeans Rally As Exports Flood Out

06/12/12 -- Soycomplex: Jan 13 Soybeans closed at USD14.91 1/4, up 12 cents; Mar 13 Soybeans closed at USD14.86, up 12 1/4 cents; Dec 12 Soybean Meal closed at USD458.00, up USD4.80; Dec 12 Soybean Oil closed at 50.87, up 21 points. Weekly export sales of 1.14 MMT were more than double trade estimates of 300-500 TMT and between 4-5 times larger than the volume required to hit the USDA's 2012/13 export target. Actual weekly shipments of 1.55 MMT comfortably beat 1 MMT for the tenth week in a row as all this business gets squeezed into the front end of the marketing year. The US has already exported 16.4 MMT of soybeans just 13 weeks into the 2012/13 season, with outstanding sales of a further 12 MMT that means that they have 78% of the USDA's target for the marketing year shipped or on the books already. At this rate the South American crop can't come soon enough - if the US continue to sell beans at this week’s pace then they will hit USDA export target just 7 weeks from now. The recent surge in soyoil sales means that the US already has commitments in excess of the USDA's projected total for the entire season. Conab estimated Brazil's 2012/13 soybean crop at 82.6 MMT versus their previous estimate of 80–83 MMT, the USDA's 81 MMT and last year's 66.5 MMT. They pegged Brazilian soybean exports at 36.4 MMT, which is roughly equal to those of 2011/12 and 1 MMT less than the USDA currently predict. "Showers increased across south central Brazil over the past few days, resulting on some notable improvements in moisture across central and northwestern Rio Grande do Sul, western Santa Catarina, and southwestern Parana. Additional improvements are expected in these areas over the next ten days, which will continue to improve conditions for corn and soybean growth," say MDA CropCast.

Corn: Dec 12 Corn closed at USD7.47 3/4, down 5 1/2 cents; Mar 13 Corn closed at USD7.51 1/2, down 6 1/4 cents. Weekly export sales of 51,600 MT for the 2012/2013 marketing year were very poor compared to the 300-500 TMT that the trade was expecting, prompting the funds to finish the session as net sellers of an estimate 6,000 lots. Year-to-date commitments are little more than half of where they were a year ago and this week's total falls well short of the 435 TMT/week pace needed to match the USDA's 2012/13 export target of 31 MMT. China was confirmed as a buyer of 109 TMT of these weekly sales, although essentially this was material switched from "unknown" as previously reported. Conab tweaked their 2012/13 Brazilian corn crop estimate to 71.9 MMT versus their previous estimate of 71.55–72.85 MMT 73 MMT last year and the USDA's 70 MMT forecast. Exports were placed at 20.5 MMT versus a previous estimate of 17.5 MMT and 21 MMT from the USDA. Argentina is seen turning drier Friday and across the weekend, which should allow for some advancement with corn plantings. Better than expected rains in southern Brazil should be helpful for newly planted corn there.

Wheat: Dec 12 CBOT Wheat closed at USD8.45 1/4, up 3 cents; Dec 12 KCBT Wheat closed at USD8.98, up 5 cents; Dec 12 MGEX Wheat closed at USD9.17 1/4, up 2 1/4 cents. Weekly export sales for wheat of 353,100 MT were in line with expectations, but hardly spectacular and below the 511 TMT required to hit USDA targets. Still, there is a feeling that things will start to pick up in the second half of the season, as evidenced by a strong showing in last weekend's Egyptian tender. The weekend weather forecast for wheat on the US Plains now carries less promise of anything more than scattered, light showers rather than the decent rain event that was being touted by some earlier in the week. Following an unseasonably warm spell Russian wheat is looking exposed and vulnerable heading into winter. A story on Bloomberg today said that Russia is heading for the coldest winter in 20 years. Ukraine is said to have already exported more wheat than the "informally" agreed limit between the government and shippers of 5.5 MMT. Despite US wheat appearing to be competitively priced on the world stage Europe granted the most wheat export licenses this week since September 2010.

EU Wheat Exports At 2-Year High And 21% Up On Year Ago

06/12/12 -- EU grains closed little changed on the day with Jan 13 London wheat flat at GBP225.00/tonne, with benchmark May 13 down GBP0.25/tonne at GBP227.90/tonne and new crop Nov 13 up GBP0.35/tonne to GBP198.50/tonne. Jan 13 Paris wheat ended EUR1.00/tonne lower at EUR267.75/tonne.

The FAO reduced their 2012/13 world wheat ending stocks forecast by 3.4 MMT to 163.3 MMT - 10.9 MMT less than the USDA currently predict and the lowest since 2007/08.

They also said that world cereal stock-to-use is projected at 20.5%, down 2 points from 2011/12 and only 1.7 percentage points above the 2007/08 low.

Both the BOE and ECB left interest rates unchanged as was widely expected. There was no increase in QE either.

Brussels issued 712 TMT of soft wheat export licenses this past week - the largest weekly total in more than two years. That brings the total amount cleared for export so far this season to 8.0 MMT, a substantial 21% up on this time last year.

This comes despite lower production in 2012 and perhaps indicates that although European wheat prices are high relative to those in the US, maybe they aren't high enough yet. Certainly there is little evidence of any rationing taking place at these levels, exports are in fact accelerating.

At the beginning of November exports were only 6% up on last season, just five weeks later they are 21% higher as competition from the Black Sea dries up.

The USDA have Europe down to export 17.5 MMT of wheat in 2012/13. The average weekly pace needed to hit that target is only 336,500 MT.

New crop wheat gained on old crop months on both sides of the Channel today as concerns remain surrounding the health of what is in the ground, particularly in the UK and France. In addition of course there are also worries about what remains unplanted in the UK in particular.

The Early Vibe - Oilseeds Lead The Way Higher

06/12/12 -- The overnight grains are mostly higher, with beans 8-10 cents firmer, corn flat to a cent better and wheat 3-4 cents higher.

The soy complex appears to have found a new lease of life, underpinned by either rumoured or actual Chinese business. With South American crops still going into the ground and Brazil already experiencing loading delays in corn - even with virtually no soybeans to be shipped - and Chinese New Year approaching I think we can expect demand from the Far East to remain focused on the US from a supply perspective for a while longer yet.

This afternoon's weekly export sales and shipment stats will be interesting, and are likely to confirm that this season's US soybean campaign is going to be heavily skewed in favour of the front end.

It will not have escaped Chinese buyers' notice that they'd better get some decent reserves in hand for when the inevitable shipping delays start in South America come harvest time. It will not have escaped the notice of Brazilian and Argentine truckers, stevedores, dockers, customs workers, Uncle Pedro Cobbley et al that the Feb/May period may be a good one to demand a pay rise. Or for Argy farmers to demand a tax break.

Further support for soybeans should also come from lower Canadian canola production, pegged by StatsCanada yesterday at 13.3 MMT, a 9% decrease on last year and below the 13.7 MMT the trade was expecting. That's lead some to describe the Canadian 2012/13 ending stocks situation as "astoundingly tight".

Canadian canola futures in Winnipeg closed at more than 4-week highs last night, posting daily gains of around CAD10-12/tonne.

Rain continues to hamper Argentine soybean and corn plantings, and also causing further delays (and probably quality downgrades) to the wheat crop there. The Argy Ministry cut their forecast for wheat production from 11.5 MMT to 11.1 MMT earlier this week, but some local analysts are forecasting a crop of less than 10 MMT. Quality is also expected to be pretty ropey too.

Hence Brazil's recent German wheat buy, and rumours this week that they are now looking at US wheat to fill the void left by a shitty wheat crop of their own and near neighbour Argentina.

A reminder that Conab are out later today with their estimates on Brazilian crop production for 2012/13.

Japan have bought 196 TMT of mostly US wheat in their regular weekly tender.

Chicago Rises, Led By Soybeans

05/12/12 -- Soycomplex: Jan 13 Soybeans closed at USD14.79 1/4, up 23 3/4 cents; Mar 13 Soybeans closed at USD14.73 3/4, up 23 1/2 cents; Dec 12 Soybean Meal closed at USD453.20, up USD5.40; Dec 12 Soybean Oil closed at 50.66, up 92 points. Funds bought an estimated 7,000 soybean contracts on the day, spurred on by technical chart-related buying and more heavy rain in Argentina. China are also rumoured to have been buying US soybeans actively this week, which will make tomorrow's weekly export sales report interesting. Trade estimates for that are 300-500,000 MT. Also of interest will be weekly shipments, last week's total of 1.354 MMT was the ninth week in a row exports have been over 1 MMT, and that was in a holiday shortened week. "Showers are occurring across northern areas, which are slowing corn and soybean planting and wheat harvesting once again. Additional notable rains there over the next few days will maintain fieldwork delays and will continue to increase wetness problems as well. Showers should also slow fieldwork in southern areas over the next few days as well," say MDA CropCast

Corn: Dec 12 Corn closed at USD7.53 1/4, up 6 3/4 cents; Mar 13 Corn closed at USD7.57 3/4, up 5 3/4 cents. Funds were said to have been net buyers of around 6,000 corn contracts on the day, further increasing their net long. Increased wetness in Argentina continues to prevent the corn crop getting into the ground. Michael Cordonnier yesterday said that corn planting in Argentina only managed to advance from 51% to 53% complete during the past week, highlighting how slow progress has been. Estimates for tomorrow's weekly export sales report for corn are 300-500,000 MT. We've had a string of disappointing weekly totals since the 2012/13 marketing year began, punctuated only by the occasional bumper week. Last week's 236,100 MT for the 2012/13 marketing year fell well short of the 426,000 MT/week needed to hit the USDA's projected total sales for 2012/13. The weekly ethanol grind came in at 835,000 barrels/day, which is slightly above 825,000 needed to hit the USDA's 2012/13 projections. South Korea bought 55 TMT of US or South American corn for January shipment. Low water in the Mississippi continued to disrupt barge traffic up river.

Wheat: Dec 12 CBOT Wheat closed at USD8.42 1/4, up 3 3/4 cents; Dec 12 KCBT Wheat closed at USD8.93, up 5 1/4 cents; Dec 12 MGEX Wheat closed at USD9.15, up 6 3/4 cents. Tomorrow's weekly export sales report for wheat is estimated to fall in the range of 300-500,000 MT. Last week's sales were only 279,300 MT. The trade will be looking for hard evidence that the much touted switch to the US for world wheat supplies has finally begun following this week's success in the Egyptian tender. StatsCanada upped the size of their wheat crop to 27.2 MMT. ABARES yesterday suggested that Australia will export almost as much wheat as it produces in 2012/13, suggesting that there is still competition about for US wheat on the international arena. UkrAgroConsult said the Ukraine exported 3.07 MMT of grain in November, including 1.32 MMT of wheat, 1.55 MMT of corn and 191 TMT of barley. There has been no official announcement that wheat exports out of Ukraine are over, but the trade believes that they are, although it is suggested that they may possibly re-emerge as a seller late in the season depending on how wheat crops emerge from the winter.

EU Wheat Mostly Higher

05/12/12 -- EU grains closed mostly firmer with Jan 13 London wheat unchanged at GBP225.00/tonne, May 13 up GBP1.40/tonne to GBP228.15/tonne and new crop Nov 13 GBP0.65/tonne steadier at GBP198.15/tonne. Jan 13 Paris milling wheat rose EUR2.00/tonne to close at EUR268.75/tonne.

Once more real fresh market changing news was hard to come by ahead of next week's USDA WASDE report due on Tuesday.

Russia said that it had exported 1.445 MMT of grain in November, inlcuding 866 TMT of wheat, 307 TMT of barley and 212 TMT of corn. That brings the 2012/13 marketing year-to-date total to 11.8 MMT.

StatsCanda pegged all wheat production there at 27.2 MMT this year, up 7.5% from the 25.3 MMT output of last year and slightly above the 27.1 MMT that the trade was expecting.

As various banks release their tentative forecasts for grain prices in 2013, most are forecasting a Q1 peak followed by a steady period of decline to Q4 lows. Goldman Sachs appear to be more friendly. They say that "As we turn to 2013-14, we see risks that the supply response may be limited as winter wheat crops in the northern hemisphere are off to an already-poor start."

Adding that "A further decline in global supplies in 2013 creates risks that global wheat inventories decline even further.

"Such an outcome in the face of inelastic food demand would likely push wheat prices sharply higher and well above corn prices to price wheat out of feed demand," according to a report on today.

Meanwhile there are tentative signs that US winter wheat weather conditions may be in for a modest improvement in the week ahead. "Drought affected wheat farms in the Southern Great Plains are expecting light-moderate showers on the weekend. Kansas is expecting up to 0.50 inch of moisture in scattered showers Sunday-Monday.

"Unsettled weather would develop from a trough of low pressure aloft, reversing a persistent pattern of warmth and dryness in November and October. A second short-wave disturbance may develop later next week, perhaps less intense than the first. The main point is that prospects for rainfall may improve in the largest wheat growing area of the United States.

"Kansas has accrued a 2.2 inch moisture deficit since September 1, and 4.3 inches since August. Fields are dry through a very deep layer. While one-half inch of rain/snow would be beneficial, additional moisture would be needed to lessen drought. Oklahoma conditions are even drier, the US second leading winter wheat state, explaining very dire crop conditions with 14% good, 42% fair and 55% poor-very poor November 25," say Martell Crop Projections.

Chicago Little Changed Ahead Of New Data

04/12/12 -- Soycomplex: Jan 13 Soybeans closed at USD14.55 1/2, up 1 3/4 cents; Mar 13 Soybeans closed at USD14.50 1/4, up 2 cents; Dec 12 Soybean Meal closed at USD447.80, up USD2.60; Dec 12 Soybean Oil closed at 49.74, down 16 points. It was a relatively uneventful session with a weaker dollar adding support. Talk that China is actively shopping for soybeans for the first few months of 2013 and better than anticipated imports by the world's largest soybean buyer in November were also supportive. FC Stone estimated Brazil’s 2012/13 bean crop at 80 MMT versus their previous estimate of 82 MMT. Informa said 81.4 MMT versus the USDA's 81 MMT. Conab will release their latest figure on Thursday, their November forecast was 80.09-82.99 MMT. "The new weekly forecast calls for better rainfall in South Brazil, especially Parana. On the negative side, temperatures are expected to continue above normal," say Martell Crop Projections. Michael Cordonnier said 47% of the Argentine soybean crop has been planted versus 38% a week ago and 58% a year ago. He pegged the crop at 56.0 MMT, unchanged from his previous estimate.

Corn: Dec 12 Corn closed at USD7.46 1/2, down 2 1/2 cents; Mar 13 Corn closed at USD7.52, down 2 3/4 cents. Michael Cordonnier said that Argentine corn plantings made very little progress across the past week, advancing to 53% complete versus 51% a week ago and 65% this time last year. He estimated the 2012/13 Argentine corn crop at 22.5 MMT, unchanged from his previous estimate and well below the USDA's 28 MMT forecast. He trimmed his estimated for the 2012/13 Brazilian corn crop to 70.0 MMT from a previous estimate of 71.0 MMT. Informa Economics cut theirs to 66.2 MMT. Conab release their forecast Thursday. Last month's report pegged the corn crop at 71.55-72.85 MMT, with corn exports at 15.0 MMT. Informa also cut their estimate for the Argentine crop to 27 MMT from 28 MMT. Tomorrow we get the latest US ethanol grind numbers, with last week's production total of 803,000 barrels/day needing to be improved upon to meet USDA demand projections for 2012/13. Next week we get the latest USDA WASDE report. Rabobank recently estimated the 2013 US corn area at a modern day record 97.6 million acres versus the 2012 area of 96.9 million.

Wheat: Dec 12 CBOT Wheat closed at USD8.38 1/2, down 3 1/2 cents; Dec 12 KCBT Wheat closed at USD8.87 3/4, down 5 cents; Dec 12 MGEX Wheat closed at USD9.08 1/4, down 4 1/4 cents. Bearish news came from ABARES who, despite cutting their forecast for Australian wheat output this year to 22 MMT (which is still generally at the top end of trade estimates), said that they will export almost as much wheat as the produce in 2012/13 - 20.9 MMT - by virtue of the large carry in left over from 2011/12. Russia sold 64,935 MT of wheat from intervention stocks, bringing the total ince they began making sales on 23 Oct to 758,158 MT. StatsCanada are out tomorrow with their final 2012 production numbers, with the trade expecting an all wheat output of 27.1 MMT versus their previous estimate of 26.733 MMT and 2011 production of 25.261 MMT. Informa cut their Argentine 2012/13 wheat production estimate by 0.5 MMT to 11.5 MMT, the same as the USDA but well above forecasts from local analysts. Drought-hit US winter wheat on the Plains has a chance of some much-needed moisture next week, according to today's forecasts.

EU Wheat Mixed But Mostly Lower

04/12/12 –- EU grains closed mixed but mostly lower, with Jan 12 London wheat up GBP1.00/tonne to GBP225.00/tonne, with benchmark May 13 down GBP0.40/tonne to GBP226.75/tonne and new crop Nov 13 falling GBP1.25/tonne to GBP197.50/tonne. Jan 13 Paris wheat fell EUR2.50/tonne to EUR266.75/tonne.

The market appears to be looking for direction, unsure if we are looking at year-end consolidation and poised for a move higher come the new year, or if we've peaked at what are for London wheat at least historic all-time highs.

There's a bit of rain in the forecast for the end of the week for US winter wheat on the Great Plains, although to temper things it needs to be remembered that the crop there is entering winter dormancy in the worst state it's ever been in.

"The USDA winter wheat conditions are not issued during the winter season beginning in December. It is safe to assume hard red winter wheat conditions worsened last week, as the Great Plains weather was very warm and dry. Last week, in USDA's final fall report, hard red winter wheat was the worst on record with 22% good-excellent, 45% fair and 33% poor-very poor," say Martell Crop Projections.

"Worsening drought in spring wheat growing areas is another concern. North Dakota is the leading spring wheat state, growing hard red spring wheat, and second top wheat producer behind Kansas. The southeastern third of the state has grown very dry in recent months. Spring wheat areas of northwestern Minnesota have also succumbed to drought," they add.

The jury is also out on European wheat prospects for 2013. French plantings are finally just about complete, although emergence and crop development are still well behind schedule.

The situation in the UK is even further behind, with the AHDB/HGCA/ADAS saying last week that 25% of the planned UK wheat area remains unsown and that 7% of what has been planted is at risk of failure. In the case of OSR 20% of this year's autumn plantings are "of questionable viability".

Australia's ABARES said today that the wheat crop there would come in at 22 MMT, down 0.5 MMT from their previous estimate, and more than 25% lower than last year's bumper 29.5 MMT. Export potential was also reduced by 600 TMT to 20.9 MMT. Even so both estimates are above the USDA's latest forecasts.

A Reuters poll estimates Australia’s 2012/13 wheat crop at 20.5 MMT.

Various investment banks are lining up for a punt at wheat price prospects for 2013. The general consensus seems to be for a peak in Q1, followed by a decline of 20-30% by then end of the year.

The Morning Papers

04/12/12 -- The overnight grains are mixed with beans a couple of cents higher, corn around 2 cents easier and wheat down 3-4 cents.

CBOT wheat failed to hold onto yesterday's overnight gains, prompted by a strong showing in Egypt's weekend tender.

For wheat, weekly export inspections of 14.2 million bushels were about what the trade expected, but as with corn still lag the level required to meet USDA projections for the full season.

There's talk of a wetter outlook for the US Plains later in the week. If it does rain then we won't get any official word on how much it's helped winter wheat as the USDA have finished their weekly crop condition reports now until the spring.

Bangladesh seeks 50 TMT of optional origin wheat for Dec/Jan shipment - India will be the favourites to win that. Japan are looking for 193 TMT of mostly US wheat in it's regular weekly tender.

"Another week of dry weather in southern Russia has worsened drought in winter wheat. Only 13 millimetres of rainfall occurred in November against 38 millimetres normally. The 90-day rainfall was only 35% of normal in Rostov, 40-60% in Krasnodar and 65-70% in Stavropol -- the key winter wheat districts. Interestingly local sources claim less than 15% of wheat is in poor condition. A strong ridge of high pressure would prevail again this week blocking rainfall and causing abnormal warmth."

Further west/south, "at the same time, Ukraine and Turkey are expecting generous showers improving wheat potential, key wheat growing areas to the west of Russia's Southern District. Blocking high pressure would keep Southern Russia dry," say Martell Crop Projections.

IMEA say that soybean plantings in Mato Grosso, Brazil's top producing state, are now complete. Conab estimate Mato Grosso’s 2012/13 soybean area at 7.8 million hectares versus 6.9 million a year ago and place the state's soybean crop at 24.2 MMT versus 21.8 MMT a year ago.

Conab are out on Thursday this week with their December production numbers for Brazil. Before that we have StatsCanada out tomorrow with their final 2012/13 Canadian crop estimates.

Soybean availability in Brazil continues to tighten if exports are anything to go by. November shipments were down 71% on year ago levels to just 259 TMT, according to the Brazilian Ministry of Trade. Soymeal shipments fell 30% and soyoil exports by 45% versus Nov 2011, they add.

Chicago Closing Comments - Monday

03/12/12 -- Soycomplex: Jan 13 Soybeans closed at USD14.53 3/4, up 15 cents; Mar 13 Soybeans closed at USD14.48 1/4, up 15 3/4 cents; Jan 13 Soybean Meal closed at USD439.40, up USD4.50; Jan 13 Soybean Oil closed at 50.18, up 44 points. Weekly export inspections were pretty decent at 51 million bushels considering that they included the post-Thanksgiving period, although they fell short of traders' expectations of 52-62 million. Funds were said to have been net buyers of around 3,000 soybean contracts on the day. China appears to be buying more soybeans than anticipated due to the recent break in price. CNGOIC estimated China’s November bean imports at 5.2 MMT, these were expected only to be around 3.5 MMT a couple of months ago. They also estimated China's 2012 soybean crop at 12.8 MMT, down 11.6% from 2011. Safras e Mercados said Brazilian bean planting is complete versus 76% a week ago and 93% a year ago. The Argentine Ag Ministry said Argentina’s soybean planting is 58% complete, up 11 points from a week ago but 8 points down versus 66% a year ago. "Northern soybean farms in Argentina benefited from a stretch of drier weather in November, allowing soybean planting to make progress, but Buenos Aires and La Pampa have remained too wet. Another wave of strong showers hit southern Argentina last week. The forecast also continues very wet in the northern two-thirds of the grain belt. Santa Fe, Cordoba and northern Buenos Aires would receive 3-6 inches of rain this week, if the forecast verifies as a trough of low pressure is expected to stall over the central grain belt," say Martell Crop Projections.

Corn: Dec 12 Corn closed at USD7.49, up 1 cent; Mar 13 Corn closed at USD7.54 3/4, up 2 cents. Weekly export inspections of only 9.6 million bushels were very poor and 75% below the same week a year ago. Weekly inspections need to average in excess of 24 million bushels to reach the USDA's projected target for full season exports. Ukraine's corn crop is now 99% harvested at 19.58 MMT in bunker weight with yields down 25% on last year. Argentina Ag Ministry said that Argentina’s corn planting is 63% complete versus 59% a week ago and 73% a year ago. More wet weather in the forecast should continue to frustrate farmer's sowing ambitions. The Argentine Ministry estimated the 2012/13 corn area at 4.7 million hectares, down almost 0.3 million on their previous estimate of 4.97 million. "In South Brazil, Rio Grande do Sul has become very dry a key corn and soybean state. In the recent month a 3-5 inch moisture deficit has developed in the northwest and northeast growing areas. Parana has been on the "watch" list for several weeks due to persistent dryness. Strong thunderstorms and heavy rainfall developed last week providing welcome relief to developing crops. The subsoil drought remains worrisome, however, exceeding 6-8 inches in southern areas. Temperatures in Brazil's farm belt have been persistently hot for over 2 weeks, making moisture stress worse," say Martell Crop Projections.

Wheat: Dec 12 CBOT Wheat closed at USD8.42, down 2 3/4 cents; Dec 12 KCBT Wheat closed at USD8.92 3/4, down 4 3/4 cents; Dec 12 MGEX Wheat closed at USD9.12 1/2, down 6 cents. Early strength was tied to Egypt's weekend tender going mostly the way of US wheat. Gains were reversed later in the session however as the market slipped into negative territory on reports of a wetter outlook ahead for the US Plains later in the week. Not that forecasters are calling for drought-busting rains. "No rainfall developed once again last week in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas, perpetuating severe drought. The last time any rainfall of significance occurred was October 13. Hard red winter wheat conditions reached a record low 22% good-excellent, 45% fair and 33% poor-very poor in the November 25 report. Unseasonable warmth has made the conditions worse, last week reaching the mid-upper 70s F in Oklahoma and Texas. The weather pattern may be changing with a strengthening southern jet stream. If the sub-tropical jet stream develops, as suggesting, it would produce better odds for precipitation in Colorado, Nebraska and northern Kansas. The Southwest United States would likely miss out on rainfall in West Texas, southwest Kansas and Oklahoma," say Martell Crop Projections. The Argentine Ag Ministry said that the wheat harvest there is 28% complete, hampered by rain.

EU Wheat Mixed To Start The Week

03/12/12 -- EU grains closed mixed with Jan 13 London wheat GBP0.25/tonne firmer at GBP224.00/tonne, with benchmark May 13 up GBP0.15/tonne at GBP227.15/tonne and new crop Nov 13 up GBP1.25/tonne to GBP198.75/tonne. Jan 13 Paris wheat ended EUR0.25/tonne lower at EUR269.25/tonne.

It was a relatively subdued start to the new week and new month, with London wheat taking until well into the afternoon to trade at all. Early strength however petered away in late afternoon trade as an initially strong US wheat market turned lower on ideas that parched Great Plains winter wheat may finally get some moisture relief towards the end of the week.

Egypt bought 400 TMT of mostly US wheat in their weekend tender, although France and Romania picked up one cargo each of the business. US white wheat won the majority of the order, accounting for 280 TMT, spread between LH Jan and FH Feb delivery.

Neither Russian nor Ukraine wheat featured, seemingly confirming that both are more or less out of the market now until the summer.

Ukraine said that it had exported 3.37 MMT of grain in November, reaching a record 11.76 MMT of grains so far this season. That's a substantial 71.3% increase on this time a year ago, although it should be remembered that export duties hampered early season sales last year.

Of the total exported so far 5.48 MMT is wheat, and a further 269 TMT of wheat is said to either be in portside storage waiting to load, or onboard vessels already awaiting to sail subject to customs clearance. The latter is not expected to be a problem, but this may well be the last wheat to leave the country until new crop.

Ukraine's harvest meanwhile is said to be almost over, at 99% complete producing a total grain crop of just under 46 MMT in bunker weight. Average yields are 16% down at 3.16 MT/ha. The corn harvest is wrapping up at 96% complete, producing a crop of 19.58 MMT to date, with yields down 25% at 4.64 MT/ha.

Kazakhstan said that it has exported a little over 3 MMT of grains (including flour) so far this season, against a 7 MMT target for the full 2012/13 marketing year (down 42% on the 2011/12 total of 12 MMT). They are expected to continue to plug away for the remainder of the season, shipping around 4-500 TMT/month.

IKAR said that they expect Russia's wheat exports to dip from 1.6 MMT in November to around 7-800 TMT this month.

FranceAgriMer said that a drier pattern has allowed winter wheat plantings there to struggle on to reach 87% done versus 100% a year ago. The late sowing means that emergence is running at 83% versus 99% a year ago, with only 14% of the crop tillering against 51% in 2011. Overall the crop is rated 76% good/very good compared to 86% last year at this time. The corn harvest is finally just about over at 99% complete, they added.

French Plantings Latest

03/12/12 -- According to FranceAgriMer wheat plantings there have soldiered on to 97% complete (vs 100% last year at this time) with 83% of the crop now emerged (99%). Only 14% of the crop is at the tillering stage (versus 99% at the same time in 2011). The crop is rated 76% good/very good versus 96% last year.

Winter barley sowings are just about done at 99% complete (100% last year), with emergence at 95% (100%), tillering 27% (69%) and as with wheat, 76% of the crop is considered to be in "good" or "very good" condition (96% in 2011).

The corn harvest is now 99% complete, they add.