Chicago Markets End Lower, USDA Acreage Figures Awaited

18/02/15 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed lower, as trade above $10/bushel triggered selling once South American farmers and traders returned to their desks following a two-day holiday. Many Asian traders are also now on holiday ahead of the Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations. That makes the market pretty thin. The USDA Outlook Forum starts tomorrow and concludes on Friday. That will give us some preliminary idea on US spring plantings for 2015, although these numbers aren't held in the same regard as the March Planting Intentions estimates due at the end of next month. I've read that the acreage numbers are due on Friday, but I'm sure that was the case a year ago, and in fact they were released on the Thursday in 2014. The trade is looking for a soybean area of somewhere between 84-88 million acres, up from 83.4 million a year ago and versus the USDA's "baseline" projection of 84 million. (Last year incidentally the figure at the Feb Outlook Forum was "only" 79.3 million, so they were more than 4 million on the low side back then, so whatever number they come out with, there's plenty of time for that to change between now and the end of June/early July when planting concludes). They should also give us some idea on 2015/16 US soybean ending stocks. Mar 15 Soybeans closed at $9.95 3/4, down 12 cents; May 15 Soybeans closed at $9.99 1/4, down 12 1/2 cents; Mar 15 Soybean Meal closed at $338.60, down $3.70; Mar 15 Soybean Oil closed at 32.01, down 31 points.

Corn: The corn market closed around 5-6 cents lower, in part of a general sell-off in the grains sector. The regular weekly US ethanol production data that usually comes out on a Wednesday is delayed a day due to the President's Day holiday on Monday. Asia is closed, or are closing, for a week, keeping things quiet. A Bloomberg survey estimates US corn plantings in 2015 at 89.09 million acres, down 1.7% versus last year and the lowest in 5 years. The USDA's January "baseline" projection was 88 million acres. Last year's Outlook Forum forecast was 92 million and the final area estimated last month was 90.6 million, so they weren't too far out a year ago. In other news, FranceAgriMer estimated French 2014/15 corn ending stocks at 4.15 MMT versus a previous estimate of 3.99 MMT. Ukraine said that they'd exported more than 10 MMT of corn already this season and would finish 2014/15 shipping out 20 MMT. That would match last season's record volume and also beat the current USDA estimate which was raised to 18 MMT earlier this month. Ag Canada estimated the Canadian corn crop at 12.2 MMT in 2015, up from 11.5 MMT a year ago. They see exports in 2015/16 at 700,000 MT and ending stocks at 800,000 MT. South American crop weather leans favourable. Mar 15 Corn closed at $3.83 3/4, down 5 3/4 cents; May 15 Corn closed at $3.92, down 5 3/4 cents.

Wheat: The wheat market closed lower on disappointment that a tender by Egypt's GASC to buy US only wheat failed to ignite a lot of interest, with GASC dismissing the offers put up as too expensive. That shouldn't really have surprised too many people, but apparently it did. What the US wheat market now doesn't need is another set of poor weekly export sales this week. These are delayed a day until Friday, due to Monday's holiday. The firm US dollar continues to be a problem for US exports which are missing out to cheaper offers from various sellers, but particularly Europe helped by the weakness of the single currency. The trade is more interested in what the USDA's Outlook Forum will say with regards to US 2015 corn and soybean plantings than they are for wheat. The winter wheat crop is after all already in the ground, whereas corn and soybean sowings are not. Last year's Forum all wheat estimated area was 55.5 million acres and the final area reported in January was 56.8 million. The Indian government forecast this year's wheat crop (harvesting of which will start next month) at 95.76 MMT versus 95.85 MMT a year ago. Ukraine estimated that they will export the maximum allowed 12.8 MMT of wheat this season. Mar 15 CBOT Wheat closed at $5.27 3/4, down 7 cents; Mar 15 KCBT Wheat closed at $5.48, down 14 1/4 cents; Mar 15 MGEX Wheat closed at $5.82, down 6 3/4 cents.