Chicago Grains Closing Comments - Friday

23/01/15 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed lower on the day and lower for the third week in a row. Weekly export sales of only 14,100 MT for 2014/15 were a marketing-year low, down 99 percent from the previous week and 98 percent below the prior 4-week average. There were cancellations from unknown destinations (413,800 MT) and China (77,000 MT). There were also net sales of 101,200 MT for 2015/16 shipment. Actual exports themselves of 1,631,800 MT were still pretty robust though. The US has now exported 33 MMT of soybeans already this year, and has another 11.3 MMT of outstanding sales. That takes total commitments for 2014/15 to 44.3 MMT, which is 92% of the USDA target for the season, versus 78% normally at this time. The Argentine Ag Ministry trimmed their forecast for soybean plantings there this year to 20 million hectares, down 0.2 million from previously, but up from 19.78 million a year ago. They said that the crop is now 95% planted versus 92% this time last year. Crop conditions are said to be good. The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange estimated Argentine plantings a little higher at 20.4 million hectares, of which 98% is already sown, according to them. Brazilian analysts Agroconsult forecast the soybean crop there at 93.9 MMT, which is down slightly on their previous estimate and 1.6 MMT below the USDA, although still a record. Mar 15 Soybeans closed at $9.72 3/4, down 4 cents; May 15 Soybeans closed at $9.79 1/2, down 3 1/2 cents; Mar 15 Soybean Meal closed at $331.50, up $1.40; Mar 15 Soybean Oil closed at 31.60, down 37 points. For the week that puts nearby beans down 19 cents, with meal up $5.30 and oil 179 points lower.

Corn: The corn market closed higher on the day, but virtually unchanged on the week. Weekly export sales of a very impressive 2,185,400 MT for 2014/15 were a marketing-year high and up noticeably from the previous week and from the prior 4-week average. Actual shipments of 762,400 MT were also much better than a week ago, and up 31 percent from the prior 4-week average. Shipments for the season so far are 13.8 MMT, along with another 16.6 MMT of outstanding sales. That puts total sales commitments so far this season at 68% of the USDA target for 2014/15 versus 59% typically at this time. That's quite impressive given the recent strength of the US dollar. Sorghum sales were large again at 307,700 MT for 2014/15, and were mostly for China (209,500 MT) and unknown destinations (86,100 MT). Total sorghum sales commitments for the season are now already 96% of the USDA target for all of 2014/15. The Argentine Ag Ministry forecast all corn plantings there at 5.4 million hectares, down from 5.5 million previously. The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange estimate corn for grain plantings at 3 million hectares, and said that sowing is 91.6% complete, which is up only 3.8 percentage points on a week ago. China's December corn imports were only 607 TMT, down 26% versus a year previously. Their total 2014 calendar year corn imports were 2.6 MMT, a 20% decline versus 2013. Agroconsult estimated Brazil's corn crop this year at 80 MMT, consisting of 30 MMT of full season corn and 50 MMT of "safrinha" or second crop corn. Brazilian growers could do with a timely 2014/15 soybean harvest to get all that second crop corn planted. Will thy get it? Some buyers may see the escalating violence in Ukraine as a reason to shy away from committing to too much of their corn for the time being. Mar 15 Corn closed at $3.86 3/4, up 3 cents; May 15 Corn closed at $3.95 1/4, up 3 1/4 cents. For the week front month corn was a quarter of a cent lower.

Wheat: The wheat market closed lower in Kansas and Chicago, and a tad higher in Minneapolis, although all three were lower for the week. Weekly export sales of 458,400 MT for delivery in the 2014/15 marketing year were up 61 percent from the previous week and 69 percent from the prior 4-week average. These were at the top end of albeit modest trade expectations and the best since mid-November. Total net sales are now 77% of the USDA target for the season versus 75.8% typically at this time. More weekly sales like this would be nice, but can the US get them with the dollar at new 11 year highs versus the euro? There were also net sales of 106,000 MT for 2015/16. The Argentine Ag Ministry raised their forecast for this season's wheat crop there from 13.2 MMT to 13.9 MMT, an increase of 51% on a year ago, aided by a 44% jump in planted area. The harvest there is now complete. There's talk of dryness issues for US winter wheat areas. "Heavy soaking rain is needed now in hard red winter wheat. The subsoil is very dry in Kansas, Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle, all key wheat areas, from 3 straight months of drought," said Martell Crop Projections. Meanwhile "tensions continue to rise in Ukraine as the Russians step up their game. The benefits to the EU export market, resulting from the Black Sea backing away from the export market, are being complemented by continued weakness in the Euro," said Benson Quinn. They also noted that Russian analysts IKAR estimate the 2015 Russian grain crop at only 86 MMT versus 104 MMT in 2014, including 50 MMT of wheat against 59 MMT last year. "This seems like an aggressive cut at this point in the game," was their take on that. We shall see. Mar 15 CBOT Wheat closed at $5.30, down 3 3/4 cents; Mar 15 KCBT Wheat closed at $5.64, down 3/4 cent; Mar 15 MGEX Wheat closed at $5.76, up 1/2 cent. For the week Chicago wheat was down 2 3/4 cents, with Kansas 13 cents lower and Minneapolis lost 8 1/2 cents.