Chicago Slides On South American Rains

30/12/13 -- Soycomplex: Beans fell on news that some parts of Argentina picked up needed rain over the weekend, and reports that the 2013/14 soybean harvest in Brazil's top producing state of Mato Grosso was now underway. "Severe drought in Argentina has eased with strong showers recently in the top farm provinces. A 3-week stretch of intense heat and dryness is giving way to showers as a cool front pushes northward through the Argentina grain belt. Buenos Aires, the top farm province, has already received generous rainfall in excess of 1 inch (25 millimetres)...still dry, the northern third of the Argentina soybean belt is expecting soaking rainfall with a north-moving cool front. Around 1–1.5 inches of rain is predicted in soybean areas of Santa Fe, upper Cordoba and Chaco," said Martell Crop Projections. Southern Brazil, which has also been dry, is expecting even heavier rains. Meanwhile the new crop soybean harvest is reported to have begun in Brazil's Mato Grosso, a few days earlier than anticipated, most likely on early planted and irrigated land. Harvesting here should pick up by the middle of January and be in full swing by the end of next month. Morgan Stanley forecast the Brazilian soybean harvest at just under 87 MMT, up 6% versus last year, with the Argentine crop seen 13% higher at almost 56 MMT. Both would be record output. The Rosario Grain Exchange estimated the Argentine crop a little lower at 55 MMT. The USDA reported the sale of 35 TMT of US soybean oil to unknown for 2013/14 shipment. Jan 14 Soybeans closed at $13.28 1/4, down 3 1/4 cents; Mar 14 Soybeans closed at $13.08 1/2, down 5 1/4 cents; Jan 14 Soybean Meal closed at $450.80, up $5.10; Jan 14 Soybean Oil closed at 38.57, down 45 points.

Corn: The corn market slumped on South American rains. In Argentina's Cordoba, a key corn area, "scattered heavy rain fell on Saturday night from a cluster of strong thunderstorms. Up to 3 inches of rain occurred," said Martell Crop Projections. "Very heavy rainfall is now predicted Brazil’s two southern farm states (Rio Grande do Sul and Parana), with 3-4 inches based on the 7-day GFS model. The forecast is even wetter in southern Brazil than in Argentina," they added. The Rosario Grain Exchange said that Argentine farmers will plant 3.9 million hectares of corn this year, down 0.5 million on a year ago. They estimate production at 22 MMT (far below the USDA's 26 MMT) and say that plantings are currently around 70% complete. US corn prices are now down almost 40% since the turn of the year, which Reuters say is the largest annual slump ever. UkrAgroConsult forecast the 2013/14 Russian corn exports at 3.3 MMT, a jump of 74% on last year as production rises from 8.2 MMT to a record 11.0 MMT. Ukraine has also seen a large leap in corn output in 2013, with this year's harvest now well past the 30 MMT mark, also a record production number. US weekly export inspections for the week ending December 26th for corn were 24.908 million bushels, down from 37.255 million a week earlier, but not a bad total for Christmas week (shipments last year were only around 8 million). Despite the ongoing problems, China was responsible for 5.371 million bushels of that total. Asian buyers are said to be holding off booking US corn cargoes in anticipation of picking up cheap distressed offers on the back of the recent spate of Chinese rejections, the total for which is now said to exceed 600 TMT. Mar 14 Corn closed at $4.23 1/2, down 4 cents; May 14 Corn closed at $4.31 3/4, down 4 cents.

Wheat: Friendless wheat slumped around 5 to 9 cents lower on the day across the three exchanges. Fund money seems more than content to drive this market lower heading into the year end. The latest Commitment of Traders report shows them adding to their net short for the week through to Christmas Eve. They were estimated to have been further net sellers of around 2,000 Chicago wheat contracts on the day today as prices fell to a contract low on the Mar 14, and now look in danger of falling below the $6/bu level for the first time for a front month since May 2012. The Rosario Grain Exchange increased their forecast for the Argentine wheat crop to 9.5 MMT, courtesy of yields rising from the 2.71 MT/ha estimated previously to 2.78 MT/ha. Nationally the wheat harvest is said to be 70% complete, with much of what remains to be cut coming from some of the more productive areas in Buenos Aires Province. India's State Trading Corp has issued a tender to export 160 TMT of wheat for shipment between Jan 18 and Feb 18 as they continue to attempt to make some room for their impending 2014 crop, harvesting of which is expected to begin in the second half of March. Talk of damage to US winter wheat from the current cold snap gripping the Midwest could be premature, said Global Weather Monitoring. The coldest temperatures will focus in on Minnesota, Iowa, and northern Illinois - much of which are said to have adequate snow cover. Temperatures on the US Plains meanwhile will not fall low enough to cause any damage it is thought. Weekly US export inspections came in at 13.39 million bushels versus trade expectations of 16 to 22 million. Mar 14 CBOT Wheat closed at $6.00 1/4, down 8 3/4 cents; Mar 14 KCBT Wheat closed at $6.35, down 9 1/4 cents; Mar 14 MGEX Wheat closed at $6.29, down 5 3/4 cents.

EU Grains Little Changed Heading Into Year End

30/12/13 -- There was precious little in the way of fresh and stimulating information or trade on the go today - as you might expect 'twixt Christmas and New Year. Whatever activity did go on was probably down to the final few bits of year-end book-squaring in predictably thin market conditions and EU prices ended with little change.

Jan 14 London wheat ended GBP0.25/tonne lower at GBP163.75/tonne, Jan 14 Paris wheat finished EUR0.50/tonne higher at EUR209.25/tonne, Jan 14 Paris corn fell EUR0.50/tonne to EUR171.75/tonne, whilst Feb 14 Paris rapeseed was unchanged at EUR367.00/tonne.

The Russian Ministry reported that the country had exported 1.75 MMT of grains so far this month (Dec 1-25), including 1.14 MMT of wheat, 428 TMT of corn and 127 TMT of barley. That's down versus the circa 2.5 MMT of grains exported in November, as expected.

Marketing year-to-date grain exports are now 15.7 MMT - the same as in the whole of drought-ravaged 2012/13 crop year.

SovEcon reported that domestic wheat prices in Russia fell by the equivalent of around $3/tonne last week, after eleven successive weeks of increases. Some are suggesting that this is the start of a trend.

UkrAgroConsult forecast the Russian wheat crop at 51.0 MMT in clean weight, versus 37.8 MMT last year, with corn production rising to 11.0 MMT from 8.2 MMT a year ago and barley output up to 15.2 MMT from 14.0 MMT in 2012.

They estimate full season 2013/14 Russian wheat exports at 15.5 MMT, up 40% versus 11.1 MMT in 2012/13, with those for corn up 74% to 3.3 MMT from 1.9 MMT and those for barley up 9% to 2.4 MMT from 2.2 MMT.

The Russian Ministry said that the domestic sunflower harvest is still ongoing at just over 95% done (6.75 million hectares of the planted 7.08 million), with output forecast at a record 10.2 MMT (up nearly 28% on last year).

They finished harvesting their record near 1.4 MMT of 2013 OSR earlier in the year, and forecast winter and spring plantings combined rising 6% for the 2014 harvest.

This is likely partly related to enforced reduced winter grains plantings this year, but also appears to be part of a general surge in grower interest in expanding their cropping areas into oilseeds and corn in both Russia and Ukraine in recent years. The planting of better quality hybrid seeds sees farmers here now achieving much better, more Westernised, yields than were feasible only a few years ago - attracting more interest in growing these crops.

The Kazakh grain harvest ended at 20.9 MMT in bunker weight this year, which will probably mean a clean weight harvest of 18.5 MMT, up 43% on last year, according to the Ag Ministry there.

Chicago Closing Comments - Friday

27/12/13 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed around 7 to 12 cents higher on the day, helped by weekly export sales coming in above trade expectations of 500-700 TMT at 788,300 MT (including 68,100 MT for 2014/15). That takes the total sold for delivery in 2013/14 to 39.7 MMT against the USDA's target for the entire season of 40.1 MMT - a 99% commitment. Outstanding sales unshipped are 17.8 MMT. Whether, and by how much, we see any of these unshipped bean sales get cancelled in the New Year remains to be seen. South American weather is the other key issue that the trade is currently debating. The forecast is for hot and dry conditions in Argentina and Southern Brazil to continue for the next couple days. However, more favourable weather is in forecast for next week – with cooler temperatures and some decent rains. Argentina is of particular concern as soybeans there were planting into wet ground. "Shallow rooted crops, planted late, would have been subject to severe moisture stress," under the recent conditions. "Cordoba and Santa Fe, key grain provinces just to the north of Buenos Aires were still hot and humid with highs over 100 F yesterday," noted Martell Crop Projections. However, "if the wet forecast verifies, it would go a long way toward repairing damage from recent dryness," they said. Jan 14 Soybeans closed at $13.31 1/2, up 12 3/4 cents; Mar 14 Soybeans closed at $13.13 3/4, up 8 1/2 cents; Jan 14 Soybean Meal closed at $445.70, up $4.70; Jan 14 Soybean Oil closed at 39.02, up 15 points.

Corn: The corn market closed around a cent or so higher in quiet holiday trade - front month Mar 14 corn had a trading range of less than 3 cents on the day. Weekly export sales of almost 2 MMT - made up of 1.48 MMT for 2013/14 and 509,200 MT for 2014/15 were far higher than the expected 550-750 TMT. However, confirmation of China rejecting both US corn and DDGS shipments adds a bearish influence to the market. Few expect the suspect MIR 162 variety in question to get Chinese approval until after their Lunar New Year celebrations than end in February, and some speculate that the situation could go on a lot longer than that. South Korea cancelled a tender to buy 70 TMT of optional corn, possibly preferring to wait and see if it can pick up a cheap "distressed" cargo that's been rejected in China. The Energy Dept said that weekly US ethanol production was down 2,000 barrels/day on last week to 926,000 bpd. The Ukraine Ministry said that the corn harvest there is just about over at 30.25 MMT in bunker weight - easily a record volume. Russia said that it had just finished a corn harvest of 10.68 MMT in clean weight, up 30.1% compared with 2012 and also a record. The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange said that corn planting in Argentina is 73.4% complete, and left their area estimate unchanged from last week at 3.3 million hectares - down from close to 3.7 million last year. Mar 14 Corn closed at $4.27 1/2, up 1 1/4 cents; May 14 Corn closed at $4.35 3/4, up 1 1/4 cents.

Wheat: The wheat market finished mixed, between 3 cents higher and 3 cents lower. Weekly export sales beat trade estimates of 350-550 TMT coming in at 596,900 MT for 2013/14 and 60,000 MT for 2014/15. Recent stalwart Brazil was the top buyer, taking 140 TMT, whilst China also booked 55 TMT. Despite US wheat being offered at substantial discounts to EU wheat, funds seem to be willing to keep pressing the pedal lower. Monday's Commitment of Traders report is expected to show them sitting on a record short position in Chicago wheat. It's proven to be a profitable strategy thus far, with CBOT wheat falling to a low of $6.01/bushel on the Mar 14 contract yesterday - the lowest for a front month since May 2012. Of course that always leaves the door open for a sharp short-covering rally if they get spooked. The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange said that the Argentine wheat harvest is 74.3% complete, producing a crop of just under 6.7 MMT to date. In the Southwest of Buenos Aires and La Pampa South the harvest has generally delivered yields below those expected, they said. However conditions Southeast of Buenos Aires (where harvesting is only 27% done) are said to have been much better throughout the crop year, and yields here are coming in much higher. Hence, they still stand by their forecast for a wheat crop of 10.35 MMT this year. Mar 14 CBOT Wheat closed at $6.09, up 3 cents; Mar 14 KCBT Wheat closed at $6.44 1/4, down 1/4 cent; Mar 14 MGEX Wheat closed at $6.34 3/4, down 3 1/2 cents.

EU Grains Mostly Lower As US Wheat Trades Close To 19-Month Low

27/12/13 -- EU grains closed mostly lower, pressured by Chicago wheat falling close to the $6/bushel mark for the first time since May 2012 yesterday (the US markets were open on Boxing Day).

Jan 14 London wheat bucked the trend ending GBP0.25/tonne higher at GBP164.00/tonne, although all other months posted losses of between GBP0.15-1.30/tonne. Jan 14 Paris wheat finished EUR2.25/tonne easier at EUR208.75/tonne, Jan 14 Paris corn fell EUR0.25/tonne to EUR172.25/tonne, whilst Feb 14 Paris rapeseed dropped EUR0.75/tonne to EUR367.00/tonne.

The euro jumping to a more than two year higher against the dollar today didn't help Paris grains. Reuters reported that Mar 14 Paris wheat is now priced at the equivalent of a more than $60/tonne premium to the same position in Chicago. Yet the pace of EU wheat exports is higher than it's ever been, with the USDA forecasting that Europe will export a record 25 MMT in 2013/14.

Brussels has already issued export licenses for 13.4 MMT of EU soft wheat, a little less than halfway through the marketing year, although surely that pace will tail off later in the season?

India remain active in trying to shift wheat for Jan/Mar 2014, with a couple of government-backed groups currently tendering to sell 250 TMT. There's also competition from Australian and Canadian wheat following bumper production there this year.

Russia's State Statistics Service (Rosstat) today said that the clean weight grain harvest there this year was 91.3 MMT, up nearly 29% versus last year. That included a record corn harvest of 10.7 MMT in clean weight, up more than 30% on last year. Ukraine has also had a record corn crop in 2013, as too has of course America, and it is these large global corn inventories that is currently weighing on wheat prices.

Meanwhile China is currently rejecting large volumes of US corn, and now DDGS too, if they are found to contain traces of the MIR 162 stain which has been waiting for approval for entry into the country for more than two years. The Chinese government don't appear to be in a huge hurry to address the problem, having recently brought in a record corn crop of their own in 2014.

On the international tender front, Bangladesh's state grains buyer reissued a tender to buy 50 TMT of wheat yesterday. Jordan is also re-tendering for 100 TMT of wheat and Qatar are in the market for 84 TMT of optional origin feed barley. Morocco's state grain buyer is tendering for 180 TMT of wheat, but seeking to purchase it on the local market.

There's talk of an "Arctic blast" hitting the US Midwest next week, but perhaps not really penetrating into the main winter wheat growing areas. There's also talk of lack of snow cover possibly being a problem for Russian winter wheat in some areas if and when a hard freeze arrives there, although crop conditions are currently said to be good.

Europe's winter wheat crop is also generally in good shape, with production in 2014 expected to be up around 2%, led by a rebound in output in the west, including of course here in the UK.

EU Grains Mostly Lower

24/12/13 -- EU grains closed mostly lower heading into Christmas, although overall the sideways trend still persists.

Jan 14 London wheat ended down GBP1.25/tonne at GBP163.75/tonne, Jan 14 Paris wheat finished EUR0.25/tonne easier at EUR211.00/tonne, Jan 14 Paris corn fell EUR1.00/tonne to EUR172.50/tonne, whilst Feb 14 Paris rapeseed dropped EUR1.50/tonne to EUR367.75/tonne.

Essentially there was little in the way of fresh news, this was merely a tidying up before Christmas exercise.

Russia said that their winter grains planting was complete at 14.7 million hectares, and that they'd also sown 288k ha of winter rapeseed.

Ukraine said that they'd exported 17.58 MMT of grains so far this season, up 27.7% versus 2012/13. That includes 6.64 MMT of wheat, 2.02 MMT of barley and 8.8 MMT of corn as they now start to major on shipments of the latter.

The Ukraine Ministry forecast grain exports in 2013/14 a record 32.5 MMT, up from 23 MMT a year ago.

Ag Canada forecast that the country would export 22 MMT of wheat this season, up from a previous estimate of 20.5 MMT and compared to 19.4 MMT in 2012/13.

India announced a tender for 60 TMT of wheat as they continue to attempt to clear some space ahead of their next harvest due to begin in late March.

EU Grains Mostly Higher In Quiet Trade

23/12/13 -- EU grains closed mostly modestly higher heading into the year end. Jan 14 London wheat was up GBP0.30/tonne to GBP165.00/tonne, Jan 14 Paris wheat was EUR0.50/tonne firmer at EUR211.25/tonne, Jan 14 Paris corn was EUR0.25/tonne steadier at EUR173.50/tonne and Feb 14 Paris rapeseed rose EUR0.75/tonne to EUR369.25/tonne.

As you might expect, fresh news was thin on the ground for a holiday shortened Christmas week.

The Russian Ministry said that the wheat and barley harvest there was finally over, and that the corn harvest is now entering it's final leg at 95.7% complete.

They say that the wheat harvest finished at 54.4 MMT in bunker weight versus 39.7 MMT a year ago. The barley harvest amounts to 16.3 MMT versus 14.7 MMT in 2012. They've cut 11.9 MMT of corn so far versus 8.3 MMT this time last year.

Overall that gives Russia a net grain harvest of 96.9 MMT, up 29% on last year.

The Ministry are officially forecasting a 2014 grain harvest of 88090 MMT in clean weight. Last year's cleaned total was 4.5% below the bunker weight volume of 75.1 MMT. A similar percentage cut this year would indicate a clean weight harvest of around 92.5 MMT.

On the export front, Russia has shipped out 1.1 MMT of grains so far this month (to Dec 18), including 668 TMT of wheat, 311 TMT of corn and 122 TMT of barley.

Exports for the 2013/14 marketing year to date are now just over 15 MMT, an increase of 18.7% on this time a year ago.

Ukraine meanwhile have exported 1.05 MMT in the week through to Sunday, including 797 TMT of corn, 227 TMT of wheat and 25 TMT of corn.

They exported a record 3.3 MMT of corn in November, more than double the 1.5 MMT shipped out in November 2012 and over 250% the amount exported in October. Egypt was the main export home last month (taking 0.7 MMT), followed by Spain (0.5 MMT).

Chicago Ends Week On A High Note - Even Wheat!

20/12/13 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed higher as a warm and dry forecast for Argentina prompted further fund buying despite the looming weekend and Christmas holiday period. The latest Commitment of Traders report shows funds increasing their net soybean long by almost 9,500 contracts for the week through to Tuesday, taking their net long position to in excess of 172k lots. Funds were said to have been further net buyers of around 4,000 soybean contracts on the day. The weather forecast for Argentina is hot and dry for at least the week ahead. The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange pegged Argentina soybean planting at 77% complete as of Dec. 19, up from 66% a week previously. The Argentine Ministry estimate final plantings up 4% at 20.8 million hectares. Conditions in Brazil are generally favourable. Jan 14 Soybeans closed at $13.38, up 11 cents; Mar 14 Soybeans closed at $13.30 1/4, up 11 1/4 cents; Jan 14 Soybean Meal closed at $446.10, up $4.00; Jan 14 Soybean Oil closed at 39.43, up 10 points. For the week that puts Jan 14 beans 10 1/2 cents higher, with Jan 14 meal up $14.00 and Jan 14 oil down 39 points.

Corn: The corn market closed around 3 cents firmer to end the week on ideas that heat and dryness in Argentina might lead to some production losses. The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange say that corn plantings in Argentina are 65% complete as of Dec. 19, up from 55% a week ago. The crop therefore isn't at the important pollination stage yet, which would hurt production potential if the heat wave continued until then. The Argentine Ministry see plantings down 6.5% to 5.7 million hectares this year. Reuters reported that China has rejected 545 TMT of US corn in the past month or so, in line with estimates from earlier in the week of 500-600 TMT. Ukraine said that it's corn harvest was all but done, and has topped the 30 MMT mark (easily a record volume). Russia said that it exported a record 589 TMT of corn in November, with South Korea (247 TMT) and Turkey (179 TMT) the main homes. The former is traditionally a big buyer of US corn. The USDA announced the sale of 180 TMT of US corn to Japan for 2014/15 under the daily reporting system. The Commitment of Traders report shows funds sitting on a net short in corn of almost 105k lots as of Tuesday night, an extension of the recent rally is possible if they continue to cover in this short ahead of the year-end. Mar 14 Corn closed at $4.34, up 3 1/2 cents; May 14 Corn closed at $4.42 1/4, up 3 3/4 cents. For the week Mar 14 corn was 13 1/2 cents higher.

Wheat: Wheat managed to post rare gains in what might be considered pre-weekend profit-taking and a bit of light consolidation. Whilst the warm and dry pattern in Argentina may be of cause for concern for soybeans and corn, for wheat the crop is too advanced for it to make any difference to yields. Indeed, the dry and sunny conditions are helping to move the Argentine harvest on at a pace. Things are now seen 54% complete, producing a crop of 4.456 MMT to date. The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange again stood by their estimate for a wheat crop of 10.35 MMT. The Argentine Ministry have raised their forecast this week, but only to 9.0 MMT. The BAGE say that early yields in some of the more productive areas in SE Buenos Aires Province are proving to be "very good" - hence their optimism that final production will come in better than the current bare figures of less than 4.5 MMT off more than half the planted area would suggest. Fund money continues to build a short position in CBOT wheat, with the latest Commitment of Traders report showing them adding around 2,500 lots for the week through to Tuesday, to have them sitting on a net short of almost 72k contracts. Mar 14 CBOT Wheat closed at $6.13 1/2, up 2 3/4 cents; Mar 14 KCBT Wheat closed at $6.56 3/4, up 4 cents; Mar 14 MGEX Wheat closed at $6.51, up 4 3/4 cents. For the week CBOT wheat was down 4 3/4 cents, with KCBT down a quarter and MGEX up 8 3/4 cents.

EU Wheat Performing Better Than US Counterpart

20/12/13 -- EU grains closed mixed, in a continuation of the overall sideways pattern remains. That's more than can be said for US wheat, which seems to be stuck in terminal decline, despite a modest attempt to stage an end of week rally today. As of last night's closes Chicago wheat had fallen 6.8% so far this month, with Minneapolis wheat down 5.9%. In contrast, both Paris and London wheat are actually marginally higher.

Today's session ended with Jan 14 London wheat down GBP0.80/tonne at GBP164.70/tonne (correcting last night's close which was a bit false), whilst Mar 14 rose GBP0.50/tonne to GBP164.50/tonne. Jan 14 Paris milling wheat closed EUR2.25/tonne higher at EUR210.75/tonne, Feb 14 Paris rapeseed rose EUR1.00/tonne to EUR368.50/tonne, whilst Jan 14 Paris corn was down EUR0.50/tonne to EUR173.25/tonne.

For the week that puts front month London wheat GBP0.70/tonne lower, with Paris wheat EUR2.25/tonne firmer, Paris rapeseed up EUR1.25/tonne and Paris corn down EUR2.50/tonne.

Strong demand is what has been supporting European wheat. Brussels issued 818,455 MT of soft wheat export licences this past week, the second highest weekly total of the season so far. Cumulative EU-28 wheat exports now stand at 13.4 MMT versus 9.1 MMT a year ago, an increase of more than 47%.

Lack of demand is being cited as negative for US wheat, although a glance at the same statistics across the pond reveals that the US has exported 18.3 MMT of wheat so far this season, an increase of almost 39% on only 13.2 MMT this time last year.

There's not really that much difference there at the end of the day is there? Maybe the demise of Chicago wheat to 18-month lows, and what Reuters say will potentially be its biggest three-week loss in two years, owes much of its current misfortune to increased fund selling? This has really gathered momentum over the last 3-4 weeks, and last Friday's Commitment of Traders data shows them now sitting on the largest short position in CBOT wheat that they've had in at least the last 12 months.

In fundamental news, Europe's 2014 wheat crop is in generally good shape, plantings are up a little, and early forecasts are for a small rise in output next year in the region of 2%. Plantings and production in America are estimated likely to be up more than that, with Informa earlier this week suggesting that all wheat output in the US could by up by almost 10% in 2014.

The German Stats Office today said that winter wheat plantings there were up 2.5% to 3.13 million hectares, which is broadly in line with Toepfer's estimate of a rise of 3% to 3.22 million ha from earlier in the week. The Stats Office peg German barley plantings 2.7% higher at 1.24 million ha, with the OSR area falling 1.8% to 1.43 million ha.

Ukraine said that it had now harvested more than 30 MMT of corn this year (easily a record volume), taking the 2014 grain harvest to 63.664 MMT - also a record.

A wet autumn in the FSU means that winter grain plantings there are down, although plentiful soil moisture has helped crop conditions.

The Ukraine Stats Office said that winter grains had been planted on 7.79 million hectares this year, a decline of 4% versus last year. Winter OSR has been planted on 953k ha, a drop of 7.6% versus 12 months ago. The Ministry say that 92% of winter crops are in good/satisfactory condition.

Russian winter grain plantings meanwhile have only been achieved on around 93% of the area sown in 2012. Both countries are likely to plant significantly more corn in the spring on the extra land available, potentially beating this year's record FSU crop again in 2014.

Russia said that it exported a record 589 TMT of corn last month, up 128% versus Nov 2012 and up 143% on the volume exported in October.

Chicago Beans And Corn Rally, Wheat Down Again

19/12/13 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed with modest gains despite weekly export sales of 415,500 MT – a marketing-year low - falling short of trade expectations for sales of 700-900 TMT. There were also sales of 80,200 MT of beans for 2014/15. Meal sales of 77,100 MT for 2013/14 were also a marketing-year low. Nevertheless, the sales pace of beans in particular has been frenetic since the beginning of the 2013/14 season. Weekly shipments are showing signs of tailing off a little, but this week's bean export total of over 1.5 MMT is still more than respectable. The US has now shipped 20.5 MMT of beans in 2013/14, and has another 18.5 MMT on the books waiting to go. That gives total commitments of 39 MMT against the USDA's target for the entire season of 40.1 MMT. That's 97% compared to last year’s 84% and the 5 year average of 73% at this time. Talk persists that some of these outstanding soybean sales to China won't get shipped. Only time will tell. Argentine weather looks a little less threatening today. "La Pampa in southwest Argentina was hit with strong thunderstorms overnight, receiving 1-2 inches of rainfall. A small area of northern Buenos Aires also received one inch of rain (25 mm). The new forecast calls for scattered showers here and there. Temperatures would continue hotter than normal however with highs in the 90's F," said Martell Crop Projections. Jan 14 Soybeans closed at $13.27, up 3 cents; Mar 14 Soybeans closed at $13.19, up 5 1/4 cents; Jan 14 Soybean Meal closed at $442.10, up $0.90; Jan 14 Soybean Oil closed at 39.33, up 27 points.

Corn: The corn market finished with gains of around 5 cents on the day on fund buying/short covering approaching year end. Weekly export sales came in at a nice 827,100 MT, above trade expectations for sales of 550-750 TMT, and adding support. The USDA also separately reported sales of 130 TMT of US corn sold to South Korea for 2013/14 shipment, along with 111,280 MT for 2013/14 and 16,256 MT for 2014/15 delivery to unknown. Weekly corn shipments were 693,400 MT with China (245,500 MT) the top destination despite the current rejection problems due to around 30% of US cargoes being shipped to China said to contain traces of the non-approved MIR 162 variety. The Buenos Aires Exchange estimated Argentina’s corn planting at 62.5% complete versus 55.2% a week ago. Strategie Grains forecast the EU-28 corn crop at 64.7 MMT in 2014, a marginal 0.3% rise on this year's production. They foresee a 2.2 MMT decrease for Romania and Bulgaria and a net 2.4 MMT increase coming from France, Germany, Hungary and Italy. The USDA's FAS said that Bulgaria had exported over 1.3 MMT of corn so far this season, an increase of 1300% on this time last year. They see final 2013/14 Bulgarian corn exports at a record 1.9 MMT. This year's corn crop there was up more than 50% to 2.6 MMT. Eastern Europe and the FSU countries remain aggressive sellers of what has been a record corn crop for many in the region. Israel bought 95 TMT of optional origin corn in a tender, thought like to end up coming from the Black Sea. Mar 14 Corn closed at $4.30 1/2, up 5 1/2 cents; May 14 Corn closed at $4.38 1/2, up 5 cents.

Wheat: Despite rising corn, wheat simply couldn't manage a rally closing lower on all three exchanges. Minneapolis wheat has now been lower every day since 9 Dec. Weekly export sales of 656,100 MT for delivery during the 2013/14 marketing year were up 76% from the previous week and 47% up from the previous 4-week average. Brazil took one cargo. That was also better than the modest market expectations of 300-500 TMT. There was a story on Reuters that one of Brazil's biggest flour mills has been told that it won't be getting the Argentine wheat it already has purchased for January delivery. Earlier in the week reports suggested that 1.6 MMT of 2013/14 Argentine wheat was still awaiting government approval to be shipped. CBH Group said that they expect this season's grain harvest in Western Australia to break all previous records. The company typically handles around 90% of the state's production, and has received 9.2 MMT of wheat, 3.5 MMT of barley and 1.7 MMT of canola to date, and grain is still coming in. They said that in the previous record year of 2011/12 deliveries were still being made up until February. Iraq bought 350 TMT of Australian wheat in a tender for Mar/Apr shipment. Australia's bumper crop, and Canada's record one are proving to be a thorn in the side for US wheat. Strategie Grains forecast the EU-28 all wheat crop in 2014/15 at 145.7 MMT, a 2% increase on this year. Mar 14 CBOT Wheat closed at $6.10 3/4, down 2 cents; Mar 14 KCBT Wheat closed at $6.52 3/4, down 1 cent; Mar 14 MGEX Wheat closed at $6.46 1/4, down 1/2 cent.

EU Grains Mixed, Defra Revise 2013 UK Wheat Crop Lower

19/12/13 -- EU grains closed mixed, but mostly a bit firmer, following recent losses, but essentially we are still stuck in sideways trade.

Jan 14 London wheat ended up GBP2.05/tonne at GBP165.50/tonne, although Mar 14 closed GBP0.30/tonne lower at GBP164.00/tonne. Jan 14 Paris wheat finished EUR1.00/tonne firmer at EUR208.50/tonne, Jan 14 Paris corn closed EUR0.75/tonne higher at EUR173.75/tonne, whilst Feb 14 Paris rapeseed jumped EUR6.25/tonne to EUR367.50/tonne.

Defra revised their assessment of the 2013 UK wheat crop down from 12.1 MMT previously to only 11.9 MMT - the lowest output since 2001. That's a 10% decline on production in 2012, which itself was a very poor crop, despite a rise in yields of 11% due to a 19% weather enforced drop in plantings.

The 2013 UK barley crop was pegged at 7.1 MMT, an increase of 28% on last year. The UK OSR crop estimate was unchanged from previously at 2.1 MMT, a 17% drop on a year ago.

French analysts Strategie Grains estimated the EU-28 soft wheat crop 2% higher in 2014 at 138 MMT, with the all wheat crop also increasing 2% to 145.7 MMT. They see the 2014 EU-28 barley crop down 8% at 54.5 MMT, with corn output up marginally at 64.7 MMT.

MDA CropCast forecast the 2014/15 EU-28 soft wheat crop at 138.53 MMT, up 630 TMT on a week ago.

"Rains are beginning to build across western areas, and should increase further this week. This will improve moisture, especially in Spain, France, U.K., and western Germany. However, snow cover will remain limited across the continent as temperatures remain rather mild. The lack of snow cover in eastern areas will make the wheat there more susceptible to winterkill during any future cold outbreaks. Also, moisture will decline in central and eastern areas as precipitation remains very limited," they said.

Ukraine's 2013/14 grain exports of 16.4 MMT are up 24% versus a year go. Russia's are less robust at 14.3 MMT, a 15.5% increase versus 2012/13.

Kazakhstan has exported 4 MMT of grain so far this season versus a government estimate of 9-10 MMT for the full marketing year.

Iraq bought 350 TMT of Australian wheat in a tender today. CBH said that the Western Australian grain crop (including canola) would be a record this year, beating the previous all time high of 15.06 MMT set in 2011/12. WA is the main exporting state in the country.

The USDA's FAS department in Bulgaria said the the country had exported 2.72 MMT of wheat so far this year, an increase of 57% versus a year ago. They estimate the the Eastern European country will export  a record 3.1 MMT of wheat this year. Wheat plantings for 2014 are seen slightly lower than 1.19 million hectares this year at 1.1 milion ha.

Chicago Ends Lower As Fed Cuts QE

18/12/13 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed sharply lower on fund selling, possibly linked to year-end profit-taking and long liquidation, and as weather forecasts for Argentina adopted a wetter look than yesterday. Chinese industry analysts forecast the country's soybean imports declining over the coming months. They see Dec bean imports at 6.65 MMT (unchanged from previously), falling to 5.8 MMT in January (but up from previous estimate of 5.6 MMT), followed by Feb imports of 4.8 MMT (up versus a previous estimate of 4.5 MMT), with March imports at 4.7 MMT (down from a previous estimate of 4.8-5.0 MMT). Celeres estimated Brazil’s 2013/14 soybean crop at 87.2 MMT, unchanged from previously, and although a record generally below other trade forecasts which centre around 88-90 MMT. Informa reduced slightly their estimate for US 2014 soybean plantings, down from the 83.8 million acres forecast last month to 81.93 million, although that's still a sharp increase on the 76.5 million said to have been planted this year. They have the 2014/15 US soybean crop estimated at a record 3.603 billion bushels, up 10.6% from 3.258 billion this year. Trade estimates for tomorrow's weekly export sales report for beans are 700,000-900,000 MT. Jan 14 Soybeans closed at $13.24, down 22 1/2 cents; Mar 14 Soybeans closed at $13.13 3/4, down 21 cents; Jan 14 Soybean Meal closed at $441.20, down $6.80; Jan 14 Soybean Oil closed at 39.06, down 25 points and the lowest close for a front month since July 2010.

Corn: The corn market closed around 1-2 cents lower on a less threatening tone to the weather outlook in Argentina and a firmer US dollar after the Fed announced that they are to begin tapering QE. The ongoing, and so far showing little sign of getting resolved, dispute with China over MIR 162 corn in shipments from the US is also a bearish influence. Reuters reported that China has rejected "more than" 10 cargoes of US corn since mid-November. Bloomberg put the figure at "at least" 9 cargoes, so either way we are talking somewhere in the region of half a million tonnes or more. Buyers in Japan and South Korea are said to be holding off purchasing US corn in anticipation of picking up cheap "distressed" cargoes of rejected corn. The Energy Dept reported that US ethanol production fell to 928,000 barrels/day from 944,000 bpd the previous week. Informa estimated the 2014 US corn area at 91.846 million acres, up from a previous estimate of 91.5 million but behind the 95.3 million planted this year. They see production at 13.741 billion bushels, down only 1.8% from this year's record 13.989 billion. That's not such a large drop as you might have expected, and would potentially lead to a further significant build in US corn stocks in 2014/15 if true. Celeres estimated Brazil’s 2013/14 total corn crop at 75.6 MMT - far higher than the USDA's 70 MMT forecast. Weekly export sales for corn tomorrow are expected to come in at around 550-750 TMT. Last week's sales were 695 TMT. Mar 14 Corn closed at $4.25, down 1 3/4 cents; May 14 Corn closed at $4.33 1/2, down 1 3/4 cents.

Wheat: Wheat slumped to fresh lows for this latest move, closing around 3-7 cents lower across the 3 exchanges. Jan 14 Chicago wheat posted the lowest close for a front month since June 2012 on the continuous chart for a second successive day. Informa estimated the US all wheat area for the 2014 harvest at 57.9 million acres, down slightly from a previous estimate of 58.105 million, but up 3% from the 2013 acreage of 56.16 million. They have US 2014/15 all wheat production estimated at 2.339 billion bushels, up almost 10% versus the 2013/14 estimate of 2.130 billion. Brazil are said to have bought 50 TMT of US HRW wheat for Jan shipment as "insurance" against Argentina blocking exports. A story on Reuters says that Argentina’s exporters are still waiting for the government to approve shipment of 1.6 MMT of 2013/14 wheat that's already been sold. The 2013/14 Argentine wheat harvest is around halfway through. Dr Cordonnier said that Rio Grande do Sul will be Brazil's largest wheat producing state this year with a crop of 2.9 MMT, a 56% increase on last year. Brazil's traditional leading producing state is Parana, but frost damage is likely to have cut their crop to around 1.8 MMT this year. Nevertheless, Conab forecast Brazil's national crop 22% higher in 2013/14 at 5.3 MMT. Trade estimates for tomorrow's weekly export sales report for wheat are around 300-500 TMT. Mar 14 CBOT Wheat closed at $6.12 3/4, down 7 cents; Mar 14 KCBT Wheat closed at $6.53 3/4, down 6 3/4 cents; Mar 14 MGEX Wheat closed at $6.46 3/4, down 3 1/4 cents.

General: It now remains to be seen how the market reacts to the news that the Fed is to begin tapering QE. On the one hand, the news should be supportive for the US dollar, making it bearish as far as US exports are concerned. On the other though, the announced $10 billion cut is relatively modest in the overall scheme of things, so the difference to the markets could be negligible.

EU Grains Slip On Lead From Chicago

18/12/13 -- EU grains closed mostly lower, following Chicago wheat slumping to its lowest levels in 18 months. The session ended with Jan 14 London wheat down GBP0.55/tonne at GBP163.45/tonne, Jan 14 Paris wheat was EUR0.50/tonne easier at EUR207.50/tonne, Jan 14 Paris corn was down EUR0.50/tonne at EUR173.00/tonne and Feb 14 Paris rapeseed slumped EUR2.50/tonne to EUR361.25/tonne.

As we head towards the year end we find that London wheat prices have fallen around 20% versus where we were on 31 Dec 2012. Paris wheat has dropped by a slightly more modest 17% during this time, compared to a decline of 21% in rapeseed values and a steep 38% fall in the price of corn.

Whether things will improve, or simply continue to get worse, in 2014 remains to be seen. The question seems to be is the glass half full, or half empty. Historically these levels are still pretty good, except maybe only not so when looked at in the rear view mirror. If wheat prices were really that bad, then surely farmers would be planting less?

Toepfer said that Germany's winter wheat plantings are up 3% on last year at 3.22 million hectares, whilst barley plantings are unchanged and the OSR area is down almost 5% at 1.39 million ha. They said that Germany’s winter grain crops are generally in good condition.

India's wheat plantings for the 2014 harvest were at 25.4 million hectares as of Dec 13, versus 22.8 million a year previously.

European and US wheat plantings meanwhile are seen higher for 2014, and crop conditions are generally good and significantly better than a year ago.

Canada has just brought in a record wheat harvest, and Australia's crop is generally higher than was expected.

Dr Cordonnier reported that wheat output in Brazil's Rio Grande do Sul is up 56% this year, making it the leading producing state in the country. Conab put national production at 5.3 MMT, an increase of 22%.

Ukraine said that it had exported 16.4 MMT of grains so far this marketing year (to Dec 13), an increase of 24% on a year ago. Wheat exports are up 14%, those of barley up 12% and corn shipments are 42% higher.

Rusagrotrans said that Russia would exported 15.9 MMT of grains in the first half of 2013/14 (Jul/Dec), including 12.2 MMT of wheat. Decembers exports would fall to 2.0 MMT from 2.55 MMT last month, they said. They peg the 2013/14 grain harvest at 90.8-91.2 MMT in clean weight (70.7 MMT in 2012), with full season exports at 21.6 MMT versus 15.55 MMT a year ago.

The market was a bit surprised that Russia won a share of yesterday's Egyptian tender, having become convinced that they were out of the quality wheat market until 2014. Romania also keeps squeezing out the odd cargo if the price is right, also confounding belief that they are just about sold out.

Chicago Beans And Corn Higher But Wheat Takes Another Pasting

17/12/13 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed around 8-9 cents higher, on the nears at least, on talk of hot and dry conditions developing for Argentina over the next week to 10 days. It was a choppy day, with the overnight session trading lower, but at the finish Mar 14 beans posted their highest daily close since Sep 13. Soybean oil on the other hand is friendless, and the Jan 14 contract finished within 20 points of the lowest close for a front month since July 2010. Dr Cordonnier estimated Brazil’s 2013/14 soybean crop at 90.0 MMT, which is unchanged from his previous estimate and a record output. He has Argentina’s 2013/14 bean crop at 56.0 MMT, also unchanged from his previous estimate and also a record volume. Informa come out tomorrow mid-session with their 2014 US acreage estimate updates. For beans their previous estimate was 83.81 million acres, almost 10% higher than the estimated 76.5 million planted this year. There's continued speculation that China will cancel some US bean cargoes, but there's no sign of it yet. Indeed there's been gossip this week that they are sniffing for US beans for Feb and Mar shipment this week. Jan 14 Soybeans closed at $13.46 1/2, up 8 3/4 cents; Mar 14 Soybeans closed at $13.34 3/4, up 9 1/2 cents; Jan 14 Soybean Meal closed at $448.00, up $9.00; Jan 14 Soybean Oil closed at 39.31, down 44 points.

Corn: The corn market closed with gains of around 3 cents on a warmer and drier outlook for South America in the week ahead. The USDA announced 278,384 MT of US corn sold to Japan for 2014/15 shipment. South Korea's KFA bought 65,000 MT of US corn for Jan shipment. Israel seeks 45,000 MT of optional origin corn. Iran bought 25,000 MT of Ukraine corn for Dec shipment. Dr Cordonnier estimated the 2013/14 Brazilian corn crop at 68.6 MMT, unchanged from his previous estimate. He pegged production in Argentina at 24.0 MMT, also unchanged from his previous estimate. South Korean buyers are said to have agreed to take 195 TMT of US corn shipments early (albeit at a reduced price) as quarantine problems getting US corn through Chinese customs continue. Informa are due to release their latest 2014 US planting estimates tomorrow. Last month they estimated the 2014 US corn area at 91.7 million, down almost 4% from the 95.3 million that was said to have been planted this year. Tomorrow will bring the regular ethanol production report from the Energy Dept. Output last week was 944,000 barrels/day - the highest production seen since January 2012 - as margins remain very strong. After that the trade will be looking to Thursday's weekly export sales report to see how international demand for US corn is faring in the face of strong competition from the Black Sea and South America. Mar 14 Corn closed at $4.26 3/4, up 3 1/2 cents; May 14 Corn closed at $4.35 1/4, up 3 1/2 cents.

Wheat: The wheat market couldn't manage a rally, even if corn and beans could, closing with losses of around 2-5 cents across the three exchanges. Jan 14 Chicago wheat posted the lowest close for a front month since June 2012 on the continuous chart. US wheat missed out in the Egyptian tender, even though it was around $5 cheaper than French and $7 below the winning Romanian and Russian offers, due to freight considerations. Thank God then for Brazil. They imported 671 TMT of wheat in November and 501 TMT of that came from the US. Jan/Nov imports were 6.636 MMT (versus 6.154 MMT in 2012) and the US was the leading supplier, providing 3 MMT of that versus only 55 TMT in the same period in 2012. Argentina was relegated into second place, supplying 2.54 MMT versus 4.86 MMT in 2012. Iran are said to have bought around 250 TMT of Mexican durum wheat, along with 180 TMT of wheat from the Baltic as they take advantage of the recent relaxation of Western sanctions. Tunisia seek 134 TMT of optional origin durum wheat, 109 TMT of optional origin soft wheat, and 25 TMT of optional origin feed barley for Jan-Mar shipment. Jordan are tendering for 100 TMT of wheat for May-Jun shipment. Israel seeks 25 TMT of optional origin feed wheat, and 25 TMT of optional origin feed sorghum for Feb-Apr shipment. Informa are out with their latest forecast for the US wheat area for the 2014 harvest tomorrow. In November increased their forecast from the 57.7 million acres estimated in October to 58.1 million. That's a 1.9 millionacre, or 3.4%, rise versus the area sown for this year. Mar 14 CBOT Wheat closed at $6.19 3/4, down 2 cents; Mar 14 KCBT Wheat closed at $6.60 1/2, down 5 cents; Mar 14 MGEX Wheat closed at $6.50, down 4 1/4 cents.

EU Grains Stuck In Sideways Trade

17/12/13 -- EU grains closed mostly lower with Jan 14 London wheat ending down GBP0.30/tonne at GBP164.00/tonne whilst Jan 14 Paris milling wheat ended unchanged at EUR208.00/tonne. Feb 14 Paris rapeseed fell EUR2.75/tonne to EUR363.75/tonne, whilst Jan 14 Paris corn rose EUR1.00/tonne to EUR173.50/tonne.

With the possible exception of the odd blip we are essentially still stuck in sideways trade. Demand for EU wheat remains strong, but global production is higher than it's ever been, and so to is that of corn.

Few appear to have strong conviction as to whether 2014 will bring a re-assertion of negative influences driving prices to new lows, or if a new year might bring a renewed appetite for spec money to come flooding back in for grains.

Currently the fundamentals would appear to edge on the side of generally lower prices to start 2014.

The firmer euro might impede a continuation of the very strong early pace of EU wheat exports. News late in the day that Egypt had bought one cargo each of Russian and Romanian wheat, with French and German origin missing out may have disappointed that market. Cheaper Black Sea sellers appear to still have the ability to wring out the odd cargo and undercut the French into the world's largest wheat buyer when the chips are down.

"Wheat prospects this season in Western Europe are much improved over last year, but in Eastern Europe conditions are worse. This analysis is based on vegetative growth October 16-31 obtained via remote satellite (click map to enlarge).

"Autumn wheat development is very often a good indicator for the final crop yield. The top 3 wheat producing countries are located in Western Europe: France, Germany and United Kingdom together making up 75.5 MMT of EU-wheat production against only 24 MMT in Eastern European wheat - the combined amount from Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary.

"Therefore, while Eastern European wheat potential is reduced relative to last season, the outlook for the European Union at large is better than a year ago," said Martell Crop Projections.

Russia bought 25,110 MT of grains for it's intervention fund today, taking the total purchased so far this season to 510,570 MT - which is mostly wheat (84,915 MT is barley).

IKAR said that Russia's 2013/14 grain exports currently include 11.4 MMT of wheat and 1.2 MMT of corn. Offers of 12.5% Russian milling wheat FOB the Black Sea are around $295/tonne, they say.

Russia's Nov 1 grain stocks were up 10.3% on last year, with on farm inventories 27.8% higher, according to the Russian Ministry.

Ukraine's Ministry say that 92% of winter grains are in good/satisfactory condition (the equivalent of 7.1 million hectares). The corn harvest there is now 99% complete at 29.897 MMT, taking this year's total grain output to a record 63.5 MMT they add.

Tunisia are in the market to buy 134 TMT of durum wheat and 109 TMT of soft wheat. Jordan is in the market for 100 TMT of wheat as well.

Chicago Soy Up, Corn And Wheat Down (Again)

16/12/13 -- Soycomplex: Beans traded lower in the overnight Globex session, but reversed that direction once the open outcry daytime trade began. Strong demand underpins the market, with the US having around 38.7 MMT (or over 96%) of the USDA's projected 40.1 MMT target for the 2013/14 either already shipped or sold and waiting to go (in roughly a 50:50 split). In addition forward sales for 2014/15 have also been unusually active too. Trade rhetoric suggests that much of the unshipped US soybean sales will end up getting cancelled or switched to South America. Today's trade gossip though has China supposedly actively seeking US beans for Feb shipment. The USDA also gave us another strong week of export inspections, with beans coming in at over 60.5 million bushels, versus trade expectations of 50-60 million. Cumulative inspections are now past halfway USDA expectations and we are less than a third of the way through the season. Domestic demand in the US is also strong, with the November NOPA crush coming in at 160.3 million bushels versus last year's 157.3 million. Brazil is said to be around 98% planted on beans, in line with normal. There's a little bit of talk of the weather turning hotter and drier in Brazil and Argentina. Jan 14 beans closed 10 1/4 cents higher at $13.37 3/4; Jan 14 meal was up $6.40 at $439.00 and Jan 14 soybean oil closed 8 points lower at 39.75.

Corn: The corn market closed a couple of cents lower, extending the recent slide. Export inspections of only 25 million bushels weren't great, and fell short of trade expectations/hopes that they might at least match last week's 40 million. Despite the ongoing problems with China clearing US corn through customs, almost 9 million bushels of this week's total is heading that way. There are reports that some of these rejected US corn shipments to China are being shipped to South Korea at discounted prices. There's also talk of at least one cargo of US DDGS being quarantined due the same issue, and that the problem is unlikely to be resolved until well into the New Year. Speculation suggests that Beijing is using the dispute as a way to curb cheap corn imports and support the domestic market. They appear to have plenty of corn of their own, with a record crop of 217.7 MMT being forecast last week by CNGOIC, up from their previous estimate of 215 MMT and 6% higher than last year. Coceral estimated the EU-28 corn crop at 64.8 MMT, up almost 13% on last year. Ukraine revealed that it had exported more corn (7.45 MMT) than wheat (6.33 MMT) so far this season, a trend that is set to continue and a gap that's likely to get much wider by the end of 2013/14. News wires report that Mexico is to restore import taxes of 20% on white corn that were suspended in 2008. Yellow corn imports remain tax free. New front month Mar 14 corn closed down 2 1/4 cents at $4.23 1/4, within touching distance of the recent lifetime contract closing low of $4.21. May 14 closed down 2 cents at $4.31 3/4.

Wheat: The wheat market slid to new lows, closing around 6-7 cents lower across the 3 exchanges. Demand for US wheat is what the market wants to see, and weekly export inspections of 17.5 million bushels were at the low end of trade expectations. Iraq's wheat tender, which closed over the weekend, picked up a best offer of just under $340 Ciffo for Australian origin material versus US wheat at a best price of almost $359 Ciffo. India continues to offer wheat in an attempt to make a bit of room ahead of another bumper, and maybe even record, harvest early in 2014. They reportedly picked up a best bid of $281.50 FOB in a 70,000 MT offering. Egypt's GASC is reported to have issued a late tender for wheat for Jan 21-31 shipment. France and Romania got the nod last week, although there's a feeling that offers out of the latter are about to dry up. Depressed corn prices offer little in the way of support to US wheat, and neither does Canada's record crop this year. Logistics appear to be their main hurdle to overcome. US winter wheat went into dormancy in pretty good shape, and so too has wheat across most of Europe - particularly in the western half of the continent where the bulk of the crop is grown. Mar 14 CBOT wheat closed down 7 cents at $6.21 3/4, a lifetime contract closing low. Mar 14 KCBT also ended 7 cents lower at $6.65 1/2 and Mar 14 MGEX wheat fell 6 1/4 cents to $6.54 1/4.

EU Wheat Follows Chicago Lower

16/12/13 -- EU grains closed mostly easier, as US wheat fell to fresh lows. CBOT wheat closed at levels not seen since June 2012 on Friday, and declined further today.

Jan 14 London wheat ended down GBP1.10/tonne at GBP164.30/tonne, and Jan 14 Paris wheat finished EUR0.50/tonne easier at EUR208.00/tonne, Jan 14 Paris corn closed EUR3.25/tonne lower at EUR172.50/tonne, whilst Feb 14 Paris rapeseed dropped EUR0.75/tonne to EUR366.50/tonne.

Morocco bought 75 TMT of wheat on the domestic, not international, market over the weekend. Algeria booked 150 TMT of durum wheat (thought to be of Canadian origin) for Jan shipment. The lowest bid in Iraq's wheat tender that closed at the weekend was said to be of Australian origin. Otherwise export interest looks pretty scant.

Ukraine said that they'd exported 15.9 MMT of grains in the 2013/14 marketing year so far to Dec 13. That includes 6,33 MMT of wheat, 7.45 MMT if corn and 1.98 MMT of barley, and represents a 22.3% increase on last year.

Coceral finalised their forecasts for the 2013 EU-28 cereal harvest, placing the soft wheat output this year at 135.9 MMT, and increase of almost 8% on last year. The 2013 EU-28 durum wheat crop adds 8.24 MMT to that total, with barley production at 59.7 MMT (versus 54.4 MMT last year) and corn output coming in at 64.8 MMT versus 57.4 MMT in 2012.

The Russian Ag Ministry said that this year's grain harvest was 96.4 MMT in bunker weight, or in excess of 90 MMT in clean weight. That compares to a clean weight harvest of 70.9 MMT a year ago. This year's harvest includes 50 MMT of wheat (in clean weight). They predict a 2014 grain harvest of 95 MMT in clean weight, including 55 MMT of wheat.

Winter grain plantings however are only complete on 14.7 million hectares, 1.1 million less than a year ago. That is now likely to be that until the spring.

The EU Commission's MARS unit said that "The decreasing temperatures of late autumn and early winter initiated the hardening of winter cereals. Our model simulation results indicate some delay in hardening in central and eastern areas of Europe due to the mild thermal conditions of the last two months."

"Hardening is well advanced in southern Germany, the south-western half of the Czech Republic, as well as in northern Europe, most of Belarus, in the Central Okrug of Russia and some areas in northern and eastern Ukraine. Winter crops are partially hardened in a wide region extending from the British Isles and Spain to the Black Sea," they added.

"Below-average temperatures are expected over southern Russia, Turkey and northern Africa, whereas warmer-than usual conditions will prevail in a wide belt extending from the British Isles to the central part of Russia. Frost kill is unlikely to occur during the forecast period. Most of Europe is expected to remain drier-than-usual, with the exception of the British Isles, southern Scandinavia, Denmark, southern Finland and the north-western part of the Iberian Peninsula," they noted.

Chicago Soybeans Resist Negative Pull Of Wheat And Corn

13/12/13 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed with modest gains, just about managing to shake off tumbling wheat and corn. Ultimately nothing much has changed for beans, we still have very strong nearby demand for US beans supporting the market, but the negative influence of the prospect of record crops to come from South America getting ever closer. Oil World forecast the 2013/14 South American soybean crop at 159.8 MMT, up 10% versus last year and compared to their previous estimate of 158.5 MMT. Brazil will account for 89 MMT of that, along with a further 55.5 MMT from Argentina, they predict. That puts them in the middle of the range of popular trade estimates. The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange said that Argentine bean planting is almost two thirds complete. There's some speculation that the ongoing problems with some US corn shipments to China containing traces of a non-approved variety might lead to increased scrutiny, and therefore shipping delays, for US beans too. Independently of that there's the ever-present gossip that some of the outstanding US soybean sales will ultimately get switched to South America/cancelled. The USDA currently projects 2013/14 US soybean exports at just over 40 MMT, of which 19 MMT has already been shipped and a further 19.7 MMT is on the books waiting to go. Shipments have averaged 2 MMT/week over the last 6 weeks, so in theory all of the outstanding sales could be shipped in the next 10 weeks, or by the end of February, if things hold up at these levels. That's a fairly substantial IF, but one that doesn't make allowances for further sales between now and then, or the almost inevitable switching back to the US once the perennial Brazilian shipping delays start getting out of hand. Nevertheless the outlook for prices is certainly bearish longer-term, especially with US growers expected to mimic their South American compadres and significantly increase soybean plantings in the spring. Rabobank forecast 4th quarter 2014 US soybean prices to average at $10.70/bu, versus tonight's close on Nov 14 of $11.57 3/4. Jan 14 Soybeans closed the day at $13.27 1/2, up 3 3/4 cents; Mar 14 Soybeans closed at $13.13 3/4, up 2 1/4 cents; Dec 13 Soybean Meal closed at $462.90, up $3.50; Dec 13 Soybean Oil closed at 39.47, down 33 points - less than 40 points away from the lowest close for a front month since July 2010.

Corn: The corn market closed sharply lower as the dispute between China and the US over MIR 162 corn shows no sign of letting up. In fact it's getting worse. Yesterday's export sales report showed a further 370,700 MT of US corn heading for China, with seemingly little assurance that it will get through customs clearance when it gets there. Trade talk suggests that China’s strict checking for this unapproved strain of US GMO corn will continue into early next year. One trade commentator told Reuters that he didn't see any approval for MIR 162 happening until after the Chinese New Year festival in February. Some news services are now reporting that the problem has spread to DDGS, with some reports suggesting that traces of MIR 162 have been found in at least one such shipment, leading to fears that they could also start rejecting DDGS cargoes too. CNGOIC said that China's 2013/14 corn crop was a record 217.7 MMT this week, and that domestic consumption was likely to be over 20 MMT less at 197 MMT. Consider too that the reason that China has been buying more wheat than previously for 2013/14 is due to the relatively poor quality of it's 2013 harvest. That low grade surplus wheat is likely to replace some corn in Chinese feed rations. The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange said that corn plantings in Argentina are 55.5% done versus 60% a year ago and 47.7% a week ago. Rabobank forecast that 4th quarter 2014 US corn prices will average $4.10/bushel versus tonight's Dec 14 close of $4.52 1/2. Taiwan Sugar Corp bought 23 TMT of US corn in a tender yesterday. A group of 10 US senators proposed a bill to eliminate the 2014 ethanol mandate yesterday. Whilst most think it unlikely that the bill will get passed, it is nevertheless unsettling for the corn market given the fact that the US has a record large crop to shift, and it's probably only domestic demand from the ethanol industry that's stopped prices falling below $4/bu up until now. Factor in the ongoing problems with China and the only thing that corn has got going for it right now is the anticipated continued unwinding of fund short positions heading into the year end to keep the market from falling further. What will the new year bring? Some think new lows. Dec 13 Corn closed at $4.20 1/2, down 7 3/4 cents; Mar 14 Corn closed at $4.25 1/2, down 8 3/4 cents.

Wheat: Wheat fell particularly sharply on front month Dec 13 in both Kansas and Minneapolis, although note that the Dec 13 position went off the board on all three exchanges today. Even so, wheat was down around 3-6 cents on most other months too. Dec 13 Chicago wheat meanwhile went off the board at the lowest levels for a front month since just before the big price spike of the summer of 2012 when it became apparent that all was not well with the crop in Russia. Talk that India plans to move around 2 MMT of wheat onto the world market in the next two months ahead of their 2014 harvest adds to the bearish tone at the moment, despite buoyant EU sales. US wheat also faces stiff competition on the world export market from Europe, where we have a distinct price advantage into North Africa and the Middle East, due to freight considerations. There is also the threat on their own doorstep of this year's monster Canadian crop. Canadian wheat exports Aug 1-Dec 5 were up 26.5% on the same period in 2012, according to customs data. With a record 37.5 MMT crop to market, according to both Stats Canada and the USDA, they are likely to remain aggressive sellers right the way through until harvest 2014. We've already seen a significant shift away from US wheat and into Canadian origin from Japan lately. Australia's wheat crop also seems to be getting larger, and they and Canada are expected to slug it out in an Iraq wheat tender that closes over the weekend. The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange said that the Argentine wheat harvest is almost 40% complete, and stood by their forecast for a crop of 10.35 MMT this year. There's talk that Brazil bought one cargo of US HRW wheat this week, but that offers little bullish input. The cold snap that has gripped the US recently is seen giving way to much milder conditions in the week ahead "Temperatures in the High Plains are warming up. Moderating temperatures are predicted the next several days as a warm ridge of the high pressure builds into the southwestern United States. Well above normal temperatures are predicted the next several day on the High Plains. Wheat areas in Kansas would warm up into the mid and upper 50s by Monday, the moderate temperatures expected to persist most of next week. Growth in winter wheat is not expected, as the warm-up would not last long enough to coax wheat out of dormancy," said Martell Crop Projections. Dec 13 CBOT Wheat closed at $6.18 1/4, down 4 1/4 cents; Dec 13 KCBT Wheat closed at $6.57, down 12 1/4 cents; Dec 13 MGEX Wheat closed at $6.42 1/4, down 10 cents.

EU Grains Up On The Day, But Mostly Down For The Week

13/12/13 -- EU grains closed mostly higher on continued very strong export demand. Brussels issued 780 TMT of soft wheat export licences this past week, another big weekly number and in fact the second highest of the season so far, which take the total volume issued in 2013/14 to 12.55 MMT, up almost 46% on a year ago. The USDA currently has the EU-28 down to export 10.6% more wheat than in 2012/13.

The session ended with Jan 14 London wheat up GBP1.85/tonne at GBP165.40/tonne, Jan 14 Paris wheat was EUR2.75/tonne firmer at EUR208.50/tonne, Jan 14 Paris corn was down EUR0.25/tonne at EUR175.75/tonne and Feb 14 Paris rapeseed rose EUR1.25/tonne to EUR367.25/tonne.

For the week that puts London wheat up GBP0.70/tonne, Paris wheat was down EUR1.50/tonne, Paris corn fell EUR5.00/tonne and Paris rapeseed shed EUR7.25/tonne. So London wheat managed to punch above it's weight a bit this week relative to the other grains (Chicago wheat was 19 cents lower on the week too).

Trade data shows that the UK imported 221 TMT of wheat in October, similar to the volume imported a year previously, and although that does represent a decline on September's imports it's still quite a big number given that Defra were predicting imports to drop off sharply after the first quarter. Corn imports meanwhile are also ahead of last season's pace and totalled 129 TMT in October.

The Ukraine Ministry said that the country will export 3.5 MMT of grains this month, down from the record 4.7 MMT shipped out in November. Jan/Feb exports will decline further, to around 3 MMT each, they said. The vast majority of that is now likely to be corn.

Ukraine farmers will plant around 8.7 million hectares of spring grains in 2014 (versus a little over 7.7 million ha of winter grains), an increase of 600,000 ha versus 2013, said the Ministry. Around 98% of winter plantings have emerged and approximately 92% are said to be in good/satisfactory condition. The 2014 corn area is expected to expand from around 4.8 million hectares this year to 5.2 million ha.

Russian winter crop conditions are said to be "better than last year" despite delayed plantings. Unseasonably warm weather in October and November has helped crops get established before the onset of winter.

The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange said that the wheat harvest there was around 40% complete, and stood by their estimate for final production of 10.35 MMT, despite output of only 2.9 MMT so far. I guess that we must assume that the more productive land is yet to see a combine?

CBH Group estimated the Western Australian grain crop at 14.5 MMT, up from their previous estimate of 13.2-13.8 MMT, due to better than expected yields.

Indian wheat plantings have been completed on 25.4 million hectares, up 11.5% from a year ago, according to the Ministry.

The Morning Papers And The Emperor's New Clothes

13/12/13 -- One of the first things to grab my attention this morning is the news than a group of US senators have got together to introduce a bill to eliminate the US ethanol mandate completely. See here.

Whether it will actually get passed is another matter entirely of course, but it does highlight the fickle times (and markets) within which we operate. One stroke of the pen in Washington or Brussels and the rule book goes out of the window and we all start again from scratch....

"I remember the good old days when wheat was 200 pounds a tonne, don't laugh, it all used to go up the road to this bloody great big factory where they turned it into some shit or other and then they were back on the blower the next day wanting to buy more. Seriously. They passed a law, a fucking law, ordering that everyone had to buy this shit whether they wanted it or not! They didn't even know they were buying it half the time! Imagine that. That was the year when me and yer Nan bought our first Caribbean island. It worked well for a few years, and it would have carried on working if it wasn't for those pesky senators...."

It is particularly interesting to then hear about this: Biofuel suspected in probe into diesel breakdowns happening here in the UK.

Surely this whole biofuel thing can't be simply one enormous Ponzi scheme where the big boys help themselves get richer whilst pretending to be saving the planet? A scheme which the politicians fell for hook, line and sinker?

What happens of the lawmakers realise that biofuels aren't all they're cracked up to be and pull the plug on the whole little lot? A scary thought eh?

But that's not going to happen is it? The big boys are too, well, BIG. And too well connected, and with pockets that go all the way down to the ground.

Chicago Market Tumbles

12/12/13 -- Soycomplex: Beans crashed lower, despite another week of string export sales, on what looks like continued long liquidation heading into the year end. Producer selling with futures prices over $13/bu is said to be brisk with the first new crop Brazilian soybeans expected to be harvested around New Year's Day. Weekly export sales of 1.1 MMT topped trade expectations for sales of 750-950 MMT. As ever, China (558,100 MT) was the biggest buyer. Total commitments for the season are now at 96% of the USDA forecast. The USDA also reported sales of 413,900 MT for 2014/15 delivery, with that particular campaign already off to an excellent start. Actual shipments this week topped 1.7 MMT, with over 1 MMT of that heading for China. The IGC forecast the world 2014/15 soybean crop at 288 MMT, up 2.1% on this season, with consumption coming in at 285 MMT. Looking ahead they projected global soybean output to rise to 312 MMT by 2018/19, with consumption at similar levels. They see 2018/19 world soybean ending rising from 29 MMT this season to 39 MMT five years from now. They expect Brazil's soybean area to grow from the present 29 million hectares to over 32 million by 2018/19, with Argentine plantings up more marginally - from 20.7 million ha to 21.1 million. By 2018/19 they suggest that Brazil's crop could swell to 99.5 MMT, with Argentine production exceeding 60 MMT and US output to 95 MMT. Chinese soybean production is seen declining slightly, from 12.5 MMT this year to 11.8 MMT by 2018/19. Chinese soybean imports will hit 83.5 MMT by then, from their current forecast of 68 MMT in 2013/14, they say. Oil World said that Australia's canola crop is yielding better than expected, and might exceed 3.6 MMT versus ABARES 3.4 MMT and the Australian Oilseeds Federation's 3.2 MMT. Harvesting is 75-85% complete, they added. MDA CropCast raised their forecast for Brazil's 2013/14 soybean crop by 620 TMT from last week to 88.16 MMT. Funds were estimated to have been net sellers of around 8,000 soybean contracts on the day. Dec 13 meal and oil go off the board tomorrow. Jan 14 Soybeans closed at $13.23 3/4, down 20 1/4 cents; Mar 14 Soybeans closed at $13.11 1/2, down 17 cents; Dec 13 Soybean Meal closed at $459.40, down $5.20; Dec 13 Soybean Oil closed at 39.80, down 40 points.

Corn: The corn market closed around 3-5 cents weaker, reversing yesterday's gains. Weekly export sales of 695,400 MT were in line with trade expectations of 600-750 TMT. Total commitments for the 2013/14 marketing year are currently at 72% of the USDA's target for the season versus 52% normally at this time. The USDA also reported sales of 109,400 MT for 2014/15 for Mexico. Shipments of 977,400 MT included 370,700 MT heading for China despite the ongoing problems with some consignments being rejected if they are found to contain traces of the non-approved MIR 162 strain. There's now talk of China also rejecting DDGS shipments from the US on the same grounds. The market was further unsettled by newswire reports that 10 US senators had raised a bill to eliminate the US ethanol mandate completely. They say that the mandate pushes up food prices, damages the environment, costs the US taxpayer billions of dollars and makes fuel prices more expensive. Like they've only just realised that? The USDA announced the sale of 120 TMT of US corn to unknown for 2013/14 shipment under the daily reporting system, but that caused hardly a ripple. FranceAgriMer cut their French corn production forecast from 15.16 MMT to 14.9 MMT (versus 15.34 MMT last year), they also trimmed exports from 5.86 MMT to 5.49 MMT (versus 6.76 MMT in 2012/13) and raised ending stocks from 2.95 MMT to 3.11 MMT (2.47 MMT last year). The IGC said that world corn production in 2014/15 will only fall surprisingly modestly, down 0.4% to 944 MMT. They see world consumption at 940 MMT next season, with production rising to 1016 MMT by 2018/19 and consumption at 1020 MMT. Brazil's corn crop will grow from 72 MMT this season to 83.8 MMT by 2018/19, whilst output in Europe is seen relatively flat over the next 5 years, at 66 MMT in 2018/19 versus 65 MMT this season. China's corn crop will swell from 210 MMT this year to 234.4 MMT five years from now, they estimate. Interestingly they don't see further dramatic growth in corn production in Russia or the Ukraine across the next five years. Both countries have tripled their output in only a few years, but if the IGC are correct then Russia's crop won't be any higher in 2018 than it is now, and Ukraine's will only be modestly higher at 30.7 MMT. Dec 13 Corn closed at $4.28 1/4, down 3 cents; Mar 14 Corn closed at $4.34 1/4, down 5 cents.

Wheat: The wheat market stumbled generally 6-8 cents lower, although front month Kansas wheat crashed over 27 cents. Dec 13 contracts expire tomorrow on all three exchanges. Weekly export sales of 372,200 MT were hardly thrilling, although trade expectations were also modest at 300-500 TMT. India reportedly picked up best bids of between $282-287 in a couple of tenders for various volumes of wheat out of both the east and west coast of the country. These prices are above the government's newly suggested floor of $260 and so presumably will get booked. The IGC forecast the world wheat crop up 0.4% to 699 MMT next year (2014/15), with consumption almost matching production at 697 MMT, an increase of 1%. Production, consumption and ending stocks are all well matched in their early projections for the next five years. Global output will grown to 737 MMT by 2018/19, with use at 738 MMT and ending stocks steady across the period at between 182-184 MMT. They see increased wheat plantings between now and 2018 in most of the major producers, with Europe's area rising from 25.7 million hectares to 26.5 million, and America's up from 18.5 million ha to 20.3 million. Production will climb in Argentina (up from 10.5 MMT in 2013 to 14.1 MMT in 2018), Russia (50.5 MMT to 56.8 MMT), Ukraine (22 MMT to 22.5 MMT), America (57.5 MMT to 65 MMT), whilst holding steady in Europe and declining from the current record high in Canada to around 30 MMT. Chinese wheat production will continue to see modest growth, up from an anticipated 118 MMT this year to almost 124 MMT in five years time. FranceAgriMer said that winter wheat plantings there are down 1.2% to 4.92 million hectares, whilst those for barley are down 0.4% to 1.13 million ha. They trimmed their forecast for the 2013 soft wheat crop in France from 36.96 MMT to 36.84 MMT (up 3.4% versus 35.62 MMT last year), with exports seen rising from the previous forecast of 18.975 MMT to 19.645 MMT thus ending stocks were cut from 2.9 MMT to 2.4 MMT. Brussels confirmed late in the day that they'd issued a further 780 TMT of soft wheat export licences this past week as demand for European wheat remains strong. That takes the cumulative total for the season so far to 12.55 MMT versus 8.6 MMT this time 12 months ago. Dec 13 CBOT Wheat closed at $6.22 1/2, down 7 3/4 cents; Dec 13 KCBT Wheat closed at $6.69 1/4, down 27 1/4 cents; Dec 13 MGEX Wheat closed at $6.52 1/4, down 6 1/4 cents.

EU Grains Mostly Lower, Are We Breaking Out To The Downside?

12/12/13 -- EU grains closed mostly lower with Jan 14 London wheat ending down GBP1.00/tonne at GBP163.55/tonne and Jan 14 Paris milling wheat settling EUR0.75/tonne easier to close at EUR205.75/tonne. Feb 14 Paris rapeseed fell EUR3.00/tonne to EUR366.00/tonne, whilst Jan 14 Paris corn dropped EUR1.00/tonne to EUR176.00/tonne.

The market, which has been stuck in a relatively sideways move for some time, appears to be showing signs of breaking out to the downside. Whether that is purely a function of year-end selling, which will correct itself in the new year, remains to be seen.

The strong, record even, pace of EU wheat exports is a steadying influence. The USDA raised their forecast for those to an all-time high 25 MMT on Tuesday, up 1 MMT on last month and versus 22.62 MMT in 2012/13. Wheat usage in feed was dropped 1 MMT to 51.5 MMT to account for this.

FranceAgriMer said that soft wheat production there came in at 36.84 MMT this year, down slightly from the previously forecast 36.96 MMT, but up on output of 35.62 MMT last year. Exports (including flour) were raised from last month's 18.975 MMT to 19.645 MMT, cutting ending stocks from 2.9 MMT to 2.4 MMT.

ADAS said that the UK wheat crop could amount to around 14.5-15.1 MMT in 2014, if we ignore the 5-year average yield (which has after all included 2 very difficult years) and go with the 10-year average of 7.8 MT/ha instead. Production in 2013 was 12.1 MMT you may recall, so this would represent an increase of around 20-25%.

"Early indications are that the winter crops have all established well and are in good condition going into winter, however early drilling and lush growth does make the crops more susceptible to lodging and disease so, good management in the spring will be required," they said.

The IGC released a mountain of data concerning crop production for next year and beyond. These numbers are obviously intended to be very much guidelines only, as they can't possibly predict any potential weather-related crop disasters - or any bumper production years come to that.

Overall they see the 2014/15 world wheat crop up only marginally (+0.4%) next year at 699 MMT (based on their assessment of 2013/14, not the USDA's), with corn production falling by a similar percentage to 944 MMT. The global barley crop is forecast down 2.1% at 140 MMT, and the OSR harvest little changed at 68.2 MMT at this early stage.

They see world wheat consumption almost matching production next year at 697 MMT, with corn usage at 940 MMT and that of OSR at 67.7 MMT, so overall there's no big build in ending stocks anticipated.

Going forward, that is generally also the case. World wheat carryout is forecast holding relatively steady between 182-184 MMT from 2013/14 as far forward as 2018//19. Corn ending stocks are also seen flat-lining at around 151-152 MMT over the next five years, with those of OSR also steady at between 6-7 MMT.

The world's 8 major wheat producing nations are seen increasing their cropped area from 116.7 million hectares to 122.1 million by 2018/19, with Europe's up from 25.7 million ha to 26.5 million. Production amongst these countries is forecast to rise from 357.4 MMT in 2013/14 to 375.5 MMT in 2018/19. Europe's output is forecast almost the same in 5 years time as it is now (142.8 MMT). Russia's crop is seen rising from 50.5 MMT to 56.8 MMT, with Ukraine's up from 22 MMT to 24.5 MMT and America's increasing from 57.5 MMT to 65 MMT.

The IGC interestingly don't forecast the rapid expansion in corn plantings in Ukraine and Russia that their respective Ministries foresee. The Russian Ministry said only this week that they anticipate corn production there growing to 25 MMT by 2020, the IGC have output in 2018 at only 9.4 MMT. Ukraine's crop meanwhile is only pencilled in at 30.7 MMT in five years time, barely more than this year's expected output.

Chicago Market Regains Tuesday's Losses

11/12/13 -- Soycomplex: Beans reversed yesterday's losses, closing around 4-6 cents firmer on the day, on continued strong demand. The trade is expecting another robust week of export sales from the USDA tomorrow, with bean sales forecast to come in around 750-950 TMT, and with meal sales of 100-200 TMT. The USDA's office in Brazil estimated the soybean crop there at 88.5 MMT, half a million more than the USDA themselves said yesterday, noting generally ideal weather conditions. They peg Brazil's 2013/14 soybean exports at 45 MMT, which is 1 MMT more than the USDA said yesterday, but 0.9 MMT below Conab's estimate. Celeres pegged Brazil's 2013/14 soybean crop at 87.2 MMT, which is now one of the lowest estimates on the table, with others at 90 MMT, or even a little more. There's a little concern surrounding talk that China may be having a re-think on stockpiling agricultural commodities, according to Deutsche Bank. The theory is that this would allow domestic prices to fall closer to world levels (soybeans on China's Dalian Exchange have been trading at the equivalent of around $20/bu lately). What the government need to concentrate on of course is how not to de-incentivise Chinese farmers from producing crops at all if they perceive prices as being too low. Direct farm subsidies is the way, say Deutsche Bank. Don't expect any sudden announcement on this front overnight, but it's something to be mindful of going forward. The funds are long beans, and may be looking to trim that length heading into the year-end. Whether they will fancy re-establishing fresh longs in January with a potentially monster South American crop then imminent is debatable. The threat of a large output from Brazil and Argentina is often enough to see the market put in lows early in the new year. The USDA's Outlook Forum on Feb 20-21 is expected to indicate farmers' intention to "go large" with spring US soybean plantings too, potentially providing a bit more downside. Jan 14 Soybeans closed at $13.44, up 5 3/4 cents; Mar 14 Soybeans closed at $13.28 1/2, up 6 1/2 cents; Dec 13 Soybean Meal closed at $464.60, up $0.50; Dec 13 Soybean Oil closed at 40.20, up 29 points.

Corn: The corn market regained yesterday's losses, and then some, closing around 3-4 cents higher. The US Energy Dept reported the weekly ethanol grind leaping from 913,000 barrels/day last week to 944,000 bpd - the biggest week since January 2012 - as margins in the sector remain robust. The USDA's revised projections for corn demand from the ethanol sector means that production needs to average around 911,000 bpd to hit that target. Also supportive was the USDA reporting the sale of 120 TMT of US corn to "unknown" for 2013/14 delivery. Brazil exported 3.91 MMT of corn in November, according to customs data. That's similar to the volume exported in Nov 2012, and only marginally less than the 3.95 MMT shipped in October. Ukraine's corn harvest is 98% complete at 29.572 MMT. The USDA raised their Ukraine crop estimate from 29 MMT to 30 MMT yesterday - easily a record production and one which they are keen to export into Europe and Asia. Chinese think tank CNGOIC estimated the corn crop there at a record 217.7 MMT, up 6% on last year and versus their previous forecast of 215 MMT. Chinese government support prices for corn are said to be around the equivalent of around $9/bushel. Large US corn shipments to China are still being held up due to some containing traces of the non-approved MIR 162 strain. Chinese Authorities in the eastern province of Zhejiang are said to have rejected a 59 TMT cargo of US corn today. With demurrage rates what they are, US shippers will have to think seriously about loading vessels for China at the moment until this problem is resolved. Trade estimates for tomorrow's weekly export sales for corn are in the region of 600-750 TMT. Dec 13 Corn closed at $4.31 1/4, up 3 3/4 cents; Mar 14 Corn closed at $4.39 1/4, up 3 1/4 cents.

Wheat: The wheat market posted nominal gains, but fell well short of recovering all of yesterday's losses. The spectre of a record large 711 MMT world wheat crop hangs over the market, particularly with wheat prices at such a big premium to corn. Egypt saw the recent price fall as an opportunity to tender for wheat, picking up three cargoes of Romania and two of French origin for Jan shipment. Tomorrow's weekly export sales report for wheat will be interesting (with the trade expecting sales of around 300-500 TMT). Brazil has gone a bit quiet lately, and Conab yesterday forecast their crop significantly higher than the USDA's 4.75 MMT at 5.36 MMT, which is also up sharply on where they were a month ago (4.81 MMT). There's also some talk that Argentina's crop might not be as low as the Ministry suggest, and that their low ball estimate is politically motivated. The USDA yesterday surprised the market by leaving their forecast for the Argentine wheat crop unchanged at 11 MMT. Demand from Brazil has been one of the main factors supporting US wheat lately. So too has been fresh interest from China, and they also seem to have gone quiet - certainly as far as buying US wheat is concerned - as they are said to now be more interested in Australian wheat. We also this week have had the news that Japan is buying Canadian wheat in preference to US origin. All these things conspired to see the USDA raise their forecast for US wheat ending stocks in yesterday's report, whereas the trade had been expecting a drop of 20 million bushels. Dec 13 CBOT Wheat closed at $6.30 1/4, up 3/4 cent; Dec 13 KCBT Wheat closed at $6.96 1/2, up 2 cents; Dec 13 MGEX Wheat closed at $6.58 1/2, down 1/4 cent.

EU Wheat Rebounds From Tuesday Losses

11/12/13 -- EU grains closed generally a little higher, rebounding from yesterday's slump following a bearish USDA report. Egypt bought EU wheat in a tender, also supporting the market.

Jan 14 London wheat ended up GBP1.75/tonne at GBP164.55/tonne, and Jan 14 Paris wheat finished EUR0.75/tonne firmer at EUR206.50/tonne, Jan 14 Paris corn closed unchanged at EUR1.0077/tonne, whilst Feb 14 Paris rapeseed rose EUR3.75/tonne to EUR369.00/tonne.

The euro rose to a 3-week high against the pound and a 6-week high versus the US dollar, capping potential wheat gains across the Channel today.

Nevertheless, Egypt bought 300 TMT of wheat in a tender for Jan 10-20 shipment, of which 180 TMT is to come from Romania, with a further 120 TMT being French origin. The market can't work out if it's good news that they bought all EU origin, or if it's bad news that Romania is still in there pitching after last week's "purchase" was aborted.

Either way, EU wheat exports remain at a brisk pace.

The French Farm Ministry forecast soft wheat exports in 2013/14 at 18.95 MMT, up from their previous estimate of 18.26 MMT and versus 17.2 MMT in 2012/13. They said that 11.8 MMT of this total will go outside of the EU-28 versus 11.2 MMT previously.

Russia bought 19,575 MT of grain for it's intervention fund today, bringing the total bought so far this season to 485,460 MT of mostly wheat (71,820 MT is barley). They look set to fall well short of their intention to rebuild their intervention stocks by 203 MMT this year.

Ukraine has now harvested 99% of its 2013 grain harvest, producing what is easily a record 63.2 MMT to date. Average yields are 4.02 MT/ha, up 27% on last year's 3.17 MT/ha. Corn accounts for 29.57 MMT of that total, off 98% of plan.

Now that we have the USDA report out of the way the market looks like consolidating into year end. Where we go in the early part of 2014 will be interesting.

Some suggest that the current spell of book-squaring and profit-taking on corn will be over by then, and that fund money may be looking to establish/build on existing short positions. That could pressure wheat down further if that's the case.

India will be harvesting new crop wheat by the end of March, and southern US states won't be too far behind that, so there is certainly some downside potential in the first half of 2014 - especially of winter wheat in Europe and the FSU emerges from dormancy in decent condition.

Current pricing structure would appear to indicate that US spring wheat plantings could steal a few acres off corn too.

Demand from Brazil (and maybe China too) could help fashion price direction early in 2014. The latest vibe seems to be that Brazil's wheat crop may be higher than anticipated (and so too might be Argentina's - normally Brazil's largest supplier).

Chicago Dips Following USDA Data - Led By Wheat

10/12/13 -- Soycomplex: The much-awaited USDA report was neutral to a little friendly for beans, subsequent modest losses may have been down a bit of pre-year end profit-taking. Maybe this report simply wasn't bullish enough, even if the USDA did trim US soybean ending stocks from 170 million bushels to 150 million? Whilst world production was raised from 283.5 MMT to 285 MMT, and ending stocks upped from 70.2 MMT to 70.6 MMT, these increases were less than the market expected. Argentine soybean production was raised from 53.5 MMT to 54.5 MMT, and Brazil's crop was left unchanged at 88 MMT. Chinese imports were also unchanged at 69 MMT. Separately, Brazil's Conab pegged the 2013/14 soybean crop there at just over 90 MMT. Abiove estimated Brazil’s 2013 soybean crush at 35.4 MMT (only 60% of the current crushing capacity), down from 36.4 MMT in 2012. They are clearly looking to major on soybean exports rather than crush, with Conab estimating these at 45.9 MMT in 2013/14. China's Nov soybean imports were 6.03 MMT, up 44% versus October. Cumulative Jan/Nov imports now stand at 56 MMT versus 52.5 MMT in 2012. The Chinese are said to have crushed 60.2 MMT of soybeans so far this year, up 9% from a year ago. Jan 14 Soybeans closed at $13.38 1/4, down 5 1/2 cents; Mar 14 Soybeans closed at $13.22, down 4 3/4 cents; Dec 13 Soybean Meal closed at $464.10, up $2.50; Dec 13 Soybean Oil closed at 39.91, down 14 points.

Corn: The corn market closed around 1-2 cents lower on an overall neutral to slightly friendly USDA crop report. They raised world production from 962.8 MMT to 964.3 MMT and cut global ending stocks from 164.3 MMT to 162.5 MMT (versus the expected 163.3 MMT). There was a 1 MMT increase for the Ukraine crop to a record 30 MMT, and production in both Brazil and Argentina was left unchanged at 70 MMT and 26 MMT respectively. Local analysts Conab and Safras e Mercado both see the Brazilian corn crop far higher. Conab today estimated production at 78.8 MMT, and Safras said 77.2 MMT earlier in the week. The USDA cut US corn ending stocks from 1.887 billion bushels to 1.792 billion, versus the average trade guess of 1.871 billion due to increases in US ethanol use and exports. China’s production estimate was unchanged at 211 MMT as were imports at 7 MMT. There's talk of China maybe starting to test DDGS for traces of the non-approved MIR 162 variety that is currently holding up corn imports from the US. The US Energy Dept will report on weekly ethanol production tomorrow, last week's report gave us a weekly grind of 913,000 barrels/day. Russia's corn crop is 89% harvested at 11.3 MMT, with yields at record levels. Morocco imported 580 TMT in Q1 of 2013/14, with most of it coming from South America, according to local customs data. A second shipment of Ukraine corn is said to have landed in China as part of an inter-governmental deal for Ukraine to ship 2 MMT to the Chinese in 2013/14. Dec 13 Corn closed at $4.27 1/2, down 1 cent; Mar 14 Corn closed at $4.36, down 2 cents.

Wheat: This report has come in bearish for wheat in two out of the last three years, and today the USDA made that three out of four. The market was expecting maybe a 20 million bushel cut to US wheat ending stocks in 2013/14, and instead it got a 10 million increase to 575 million bushels. They also raised their global wheat production estimate from 706.4 MMT to 711.4 MMT, usurping last week's 711 MMT forecast from the FAO. World ending stocks were increased from 178.5 MMT to 182.8 MMT versus the 179.1 MMT expected. Argentine production was expected to fall 1 MMT to 10 MMT, but instead was left unchanged. Canadian output was raised from 33.2 MMT to 37.5 MMT, bringing the USDA into line with last week's Stats Canada number. Australian output was also increased 1 MMT to 26.5 MMT. Clear evidence that Japan is switching away from US spring wheat to Canadian origin is unsettling for US export prospects. Japan imported almost 900 TMT of Canadian Western Red Spring wheat in Apr/Nov, a 40% increase on last year. Imports of US Dark Northern Spring wheat meanwhile have slumped by a third to less than 600 TMT in the same period. Today the Japanese bought 111,173 MT of Canadian Western Red Spring wheat in a tender and no US origin material. Conab forecast the Brazilian wheat crop at 5.32 MMT, up 11% from their previous estimate and versus the USDA's 4.75 MMT. Strong buying interest from Brazil is what has been supporting the US market of late. Dec 13 CBOT Wheat closed at $6.29 1/2, down 9 1/2 cents; Dec 13 KCBT Wheat closed at $6.94 1/2, down 9 cents; Dec 13 MGEX Wheat closed at $6.58 3/4, down 9 1/4 cents.