Chicago Dives - Are The Funds Getting Cold Feet?

02/04/14 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed a see-saw session sharply lower on the nears on profit-taking, retreating from the overnight highs which were close to $15/bu on front month May 14. Fresh talk of Chinese cancellations, amidst continued gossip that buyers there are having difficulties obtaining letters of credit weighed on the market. Funds may want to own soybeans, but they don't actually want to take delivery of them. If China doesn't either then the soybean market is in trouble, especially given the large long position that spec money holds. A run of bad economic data and further Chinese cancellations and/or deferrals could spark a unified (and undignified) fund money scramble for the exit which that wouldn't be pretty at all. Various analysts are re-tuning their estimates for the Brazilian 2013/14 soybean crop. Some are going up, and others going down, but the number around which they are mostly converging is 86.5-87.0 MMT. That's a record crop, although not as large as some of the estimates from earlier in the season which were in the 90-92 MMT region. Most now see the Argentine crop at around 54 MMT, the second highest in their history. That's a bit better than some early season estimates when Argentina was still dry. "February was extremely wet with 150-250% of normal rainfall, increasing yields in pod-filling (Argentine) soybeans," said Martell Crop Projections. The Brazilian Ministry said that the country had exported 6.23 MMT of beans in March, up from 2.79 MMT in February and versus only 3.54 MMT in March 2013. Hearing that one Memphis consultant forecast US soybean plantings at 82.4 million acres this year, which would be a new record by some distance, and is almost a million higher than the USDA said on Monday. Weekly export sales due tomorrow will be of interest to see if any Chinese cancellations materialise. Old crop sales are expected to be anywhere from 200 TMT negative to 200 TMT positive, with new crop sales in the region of 300-550 TMT. Fund selling in beans was estimated at around 10,000 contracts on the day. May 14 Soybeans closed at $14.62 1/4, down 22 1/4 cents; Jul 14 Soybeans closed at $14.41 1/4, down 16 cents; May 14 Soybean Meal closed at $476.50, down $6.20; May 14 Soybean Oil closed at 40.85, down 55 points.

Corn: The corn market gave up all of yesterday's gains and then some, on what was a bit of a bad day at the office for the entire grains sector. As with beans, front month May 14 took the biggest hit, closing with double digit losses and falling back below the $5/bu mark it had taken so long to breach. The $5/bu level has apparently triggered heavy producer selling, and if the funds aren't there to stand up and continue to put their money where their mouth is then the rest of the trade isn't going to do it for them by the looks of it. Fund money was estimated to have finished the day net sellers of around 12,000 contracts. With second crop corn only just finished planting in Brazil, we still have a fairly large disparity of opinion as to the overall size of the total crop there. Informa estimated Brazil’s 2013/14 corn crop at 67.95 MMT. Agroconsult said 71.2 MMT and Dr Cordonnier went for 70.0 MMT versus a previous estimate of 68.5 MMT. The Brazilian Ministry pegged March corn exports at 577,700 MT versus 1.06 MMT in February and 1.61 MMT in March 2013. Dr Cordonnier estimated Argentina's 2013/14 corn crop at 23.5 MMT versus a previous estimate of 23.0 MMT. Israel bought 35,000 MT of optional origin corn (possibly from US or South America) for May/June shipment. Weekly US ethanol production jumped to 922,000 barrels/day from 885,000 bpd the previous week. Even that is still not enough to meet the USDA's target for the season though which is now around 936,000 bpd. Hearing that one firm pegged 2014 US corn plantings at 92.2 million acres. The USDA said on Monday that US farmers would "only" plant 91.7 million acres of corn this spring. The Goldman Sachs roll, in which they will be rolling their long May positions forward, is expected to begin April 7th and last for 5 days. Other large funds will also be doing likewise, which could put the nearby month under a bit of pressure. Trade estimates for tomorrow's weekly export sales report are in the region of 1 MMT for old crop, with new crop sales of 0-200 TMT. May 14 Corn closed at $4.95 3/4, down 11 3/4 cents; Jul 14 Corn closed at $5.01, down 11 1/2 cents.

Wheat: The wheat market slumped for a second day on ideas that the recent substantial "risk premium" that was built into the market to cover the Russian/Ukraine problem and weather-related production losses on the US Plains may have been overdone. Recent fund enthusiasm to own wheat was tested, getting little in the way of support from the end user, or corn/beans today. For wheat futures "technical resistance adds to an already dim fundamental picture," said Benson Quinn Commodities. China's government had wheat up for auction again today. They sold only 28.26% (246,319 MT) of the offered 871,525 MT. That's even worse than last week when they only sold around a third of the circa 800 TMT of wheat on offer. Taiwan Flour Mills are tendering for 92,550 MT of US milling wheat for June shipment. Japan seeks 120,000 MT of feed wheat and 200,000 MT of feed barley in a tender for July shipment. Israel cancelled a tender for 20,000 MT of optional origin feed wheat for May/June shipment. Ukraine's Ag Ministry said that the country has planted 2.385 million hectares of early spring grains versus only 678,000 hectares a year ago. There are some decent rains in the forecast for Ukraine in Apr 6-18 period after what has been a relatively dry winter. Russia continues to export grain at a decent pace, with Rusagrotrans increasing their forecast for both March and April exports to around 1.6-1.7 MMT. They now forecast exports for the full season at 24.3 MMT, the second largest ever. The USDA's FAS in Tunisia said that the 2014/15 grain harvest there could rise from 1.29 MMT to 1.9 MMT, including 1.3 MMT of wheat following good rains. Copa Cogence forecast a small decline in wheat production in France (down from 38.5 MMT to 38.0 MMT) and Germany (from 24.9 MMT to 24.6 MMT) this year. Barley production in the two is seen rising a little, from 10.3 MMT to 10.9 MMT in France, and from 10.4 MMT to 10.6 MMT in Germany. Overall the EU wheat crop is seen 2.7% higher, they estimate. Trade forecasts for tomorrow's weekly export sales report are seen at 200-400 TMT each for both old and new crop. May 14 CBOT Wheat closed at $6.69 1/4, down 16 cents; May 14 KCBT Wheat closed at $7.38 3/4, down 14 3/4 cents; May 14 MGEX Wheat closed at $7.22 1/4, down 13 cents.