EU Grains Drift Mostly Lower, Ukraine Forecast Record Exports

18/02/15 -- EU grains closed mixed but mostly lower on the day. A firmer sterling was a hindrance to London wheat.

At the close, Mar 15 London wheat was GBP2.45/tonne easier at GBP120.65/tonne, Mar 15 Paris wheat was EUR2.25/tonne lower at EUR185.75/tonne, Mar 15 Paris corn was down EUR0.25/tonne at EUR152.75/tonne and May 15 Paris rapeseed rose EUR0.50/tonne to EUR357.25/tonne.

The market is looking for direction. Maybe the upcoming USDA Outlook Forum on Thursday and Friday might provide it, but I wouldn't hold your breath.

Winter crops are still largely dormant, and it may take until spring arrives and these can be fully assessed for condition before we really do get some clear market direction. The state of play with crops in Russia and Ukraine will be top of my watch-list.

Meanwhile, closer to home, FranceAgriMer reported French winter wheat plantings up 2.7% at 5.4 million hectares, with winter OSR sowings down 2% to 1.39 million ha, and the winter barley area up 3.1% to 1.27 million ha.

They estimated French 2014/15 soft wheat exports outside the EU at 9.8 MMT versus a previous estimate of 8.8 MMT. That extra export interest now helps lower soft wheat ending stocks to 3.63 MMT versus a previous estimate of 4.34 MMT.

French barley ending stocks are now seen higher at 1.74 MMT versus a previous estimate of 1.49 MMT, and corn ending stocks are also forecast higher than previously at 4.15 MMT versus 3.99 MMT a month ago.

Ukraine said that they'd exported almost 23.4 MMT of grains so far this season (to Feb 17), including just over 9 MMT of wheat, 3.8 MMT of barley and 10.3 MMT of corn.

The Ukraine Ministry of Economic Development raised their forecast for 2014/15 total grain exports to a record 37.9 MMT, including 12.8 MMT of wheat, 4.2 MMT of barley and 20.2 MMT of corn. These numbers match the export limits said to have been agreed between the Ag Ministry and traders in late January.

Let them export it all now, the smaller Ukraine's carryover stocks at the end of the current season the better, for those hoping for higher prices to come going forward.

Russia's intervention purchasing isn't going well at all. Today they only managed to pick up 675 MT, taking the total bought since Sep 30 to less than 355 TMT out of a government target of 2.5-3.0 MMT.

Jordan bought 100,000 MT of feed barley of optional origin for August shipment. Egypt's GASC cancelled a tender to buy US only wheat due to the high prices on offer.