EU Grains Mixed Prior To USDA Report Release

10/02/14 -- Heading towards the close of trading, EU wheat futures were mostly a little lower, although the 5pm London time release of the February USDA WASDE report always had the potential to change that.

Nevertheless, Mar 14 London wheat closed GBP0.80/tonne lower at GBP1563.50/tonne, whilst new crop Nov 14 was GBP0.10/tonne firmer at GBP146.15/tonne. Mar 14 Paris wheat closed unchanged at EUR194.75/tonne, Mar 14 Paris corn was EUR0.50/tonne higher at EUR174.72/tonne, whilst May 14 Paris rapeseed fell EUR2.25/tonne to EUR374.00/tonne

The French Farm Ministry said that the winter soft wheat area for the 2014 harvest would be 0.6% up on a year ago at a tad under 5 million hectares. The winter barley area is up 5.1% to 1.2 million ha, and the winter OSR area has risen 6.3% to 1.52 million ha, they added.

France shipped 1.8 MMT of soft wheat in December, a 38% increase on November, with 1.3 MMT of that total going outside the EU. The largest non-EU buyers were Algeria with 488 TMT, followed by Egypt with 189 TMT and Morocco with 172 TMT.

Total grain exports during the first half of 2013/14 (Jul/Dec) are now 8.65 MMT, up 12% on a year ago. Nevertheless there are concerns that exports will slow for the last half of the campaign, cash premiums at the ports are declining, suggesting that export demand is waning. The recent development of Egypt lowering their maximum moisture requirement for wheat also suggests that French exports could dip in the remainder of the season.

The Ukraine Ag Ministry said that they'd exported over 640 TMT in the first week of February, a significant improvement on late January. They said that this was down to improved weather conditions. Total shipments for the current campaign now exceed 22 MMT, an increase of a third on last year. In addition there are vessels at various ports in Ukraine waiting to load 1.3 MMT of further grains for export, they added.

The devaluation of the Ukraine hryvnia, which sell to a 5-year low against the US dollar last week, is seen aiding grain exports this year.

Up until last week, Russia had only managed to buy less than 600 TMT of grain for it's depleted intervention fund, a far cry from the 5-6 MMT originally intended. This is due to the government price being too low, particularly exacerbated do by the recent decline in the rouble to a 5-year low versus the US dollar, which makes exports more attractive.

Australia are reported to have sent a record large shipment of feed barley to Saudi Arabia - 78.6 TMT.

The USDA's FAS pegged the Australian 2013 wheat crop at 26.2 MMT, an increase of 17% on last year. They see the barley crop up 15% to 8.6 MMT. Wheat exports however are pegged 13% lower at 18.6 MMT, with barley exports 12% higher at 5 MMT.