Chicago Markets All Lower For The Week

06/03/15 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed little changed on the day, but sharply lower for the week. The truckers strike in Brazil appears to be over - for now - although the protesters said that they might resume their action on Mar 10 if talks with the government fail to reach an agreement. Demand is switching to South America, and for the time being Brazil specifically. There's nothing particularly new about that, and with the US exporter already 98% sold on beans, what else is demand supposed to do? We probably haven't heard the last of strike action in Brazil. If it's not the truckers again next week then it will soon be the dockers, silo operators, customs workers or somebody else the week after. Cue headlines telling us how many boats are queueing at Paranagua, Santo etc., and how many days a vessel must wait to get loaded. Cue strikes in Argentina as soon as their export programme gets going. Cue "it's too dry/hot/cold/wet in the Midwest" after that. It's just another average year in the grain markets. In fundamental news, Argentine farmers are said to be 81% sold on their old crop beans and 10% committed on new crop, which is about in line with year ago levels. Next Tuesday brings the March WASDE report from the USDA. US soybean ending stocks are expected to be pared back a little from last month's 385 million bushels. Mar 15 Soybeans closed at $9.79 1/4, unchanged; May 15 Soybeans closed at $9.85, down 1/2 cent; Mar 15 Soybean Meal closed at $337.00, up $2.60; Mar 15 Soybean Oil closed at 31.14, down 29 points. For the week, front month beans shed 51 1/2 cents, meal lost $16.70 and oil slipped 166 points.

Corn: The corn market closed around 3-4 cents lower, with a newly resurgent US dollar doing nobody any favours. The greenback rose to 12-year highs today after bullish jobs data suggested to the market that a US interest rate rise might now not be too far away. News that the Brazilian truckers strike is over leans bearish, So too do reports that planting of Brazil's safrinha corn crop is now 85% complete. Next week's USDA report is expected to trim back US corn ending stocks a little, and maybe "trade off" a possible cut in production in Brazil with a rise in output for Argentina. South Africa's production might also be reduced. The Argentine farmer is said to be fully sold on his old crop corn and around 26% committed on new crop. He was little more than 10% sold on new crop this time last year. Heavy rains have been hampering the early corn harvest in Argentina, which is only 2.7% complete. After next week's WASDE report is out of the way, the next "big thing" will be the USDA's planting intentions report at the end of the month. Chicago brokerage firm Futures International were said to have raised their forecast for US corn plantings this year by 450,000 acres to 88.7 million acres. The Dec 15 corn to Nov 15 soybean price ratio has fallen to 2.35:1 which might lead to corn plantings holding their ground a bit more with soybeans, they suggest. Ukraine said that they'd exported 11.34 MMT of corn so far this season. There's a theory that the economic situation in Ukraine and Russia will see less corn get planted this spring, and that yields might be lower due to reduced fertiliser applications and the use of inferior quality seed. Mar 15 Corn closed at $3.79 1/4, down 3 1/2 cents; May 15 Corn closed at $3.86, down 4 1/2 cents. For the week Mar 15 was down 5 1/4 cents.

Wheat: The wheat market closed a little higher in what was probably pre-weekend consolidation after a week of fairly heavy losses. The Russian Ag Ministry revised upwards their estimate for the 2014 grain crop from 103.8 MMT to 105.3 MMT. They said that output this year would not be less than 100 MMT, despite widespread reports of inferior winter crop conditions, increased levels of winter-kill and tightness of credit to fund spring plantings. Iran bought 85,000 MT of wheat in a tender for March shipment, of which 60,000 MT was German and 25,000 MT Black Sea origin material. Jordan were in the market for 100,000 MT of optional origin wheat for June shipment, but only bought half of that quantity in the end. Taiwan are tendering for 83,950 MT of US wheat for Apr-May shipment. The Argentine grower is said to be 58% sold on his new crop wheat versus 37% this time a year ago. The Indian government said that they will buy 30 MMT of wheat from the nation's growers this year starting Apr 1, to support farming. This will swell the already more than ample state coffers even more. There continues to be talk of India re-entering the export market to make a bit of room prior to the imminent start of the new crop harvest, but current world prices are not really to their liking. Ukraine said that it had exported 24.83 MMT of grains so far this season, of which 9.37 MMT was wheat and 3.87 MMT barley. APK Inform estimated that Ukraine's winter wheat yields could fall almost 25% this year. The strong US dollar remains a thorn in the side of US wheat export hopes. Yesterday's weekly export sales report total of 469,600 MT was pretty good, although it was artificially inflated by sales of subsidised HRW wheat to Egypt. Mar 15 CBOT Wheat closed at $4.85 3/4, up 4 1/2 cents; Mar 15 KCBT Wheat closed at $5.20 3/4, up 6 3/4 cents; Mar 15 MGEX Wheat closed at $5.42, down 5 cents. For the week, Chicago wheat was still 31 3/4 cents lower, with Kansas down 13 3/4 cents and Minneapolis losing 14 cents.

EU Grains End Mostly Lower For The Week Despite Euro Sinking

06/03/15 -- EU grains closed mixed on the day, but mostly lower for the week.

At the finish, Mar 15 London wheat was GBP0.35/tonne easier at GBP116.25/tonne, Mar 15 Paris wheat was EUR1.75/tonne lower at EUR181.00/tonne, Jun 15 Paris corn was up EUR1.00/tonne at EUR159.00/tonne and May 15 Paris rapeseed rose EUR0.75/tonne to EUR362.50/tonne.

For the week, London wheat was GBP0.55/tonne lower, Paris wheat was down EUR6.50/tonne, corn was up EUR1.25/tonne and rapeseed fell EUR5.75/tonne.

It is interesting to see London wheat only falling a most 0.5% versus losses in Paris wheat of 3.5% during the course of the week, given the comparative strength of sterling versus the euro.

The pound hit 1.39 against the single currency today, its best level since late 2007, with some pundits now suggesting it might pass through 1.50 by the end of the year.

The euro meanwhile fell below 1.09 against the US dollar today, its lowest level since mid-2003 on speculation that the Fed will be the first of the majors to start raising interest rates, US unemployment fell to 5.5% - its lowest since May 2008 according to data out today. That compares to 5.7% in the UK and a whopping 11.2% in the eurozone.

The ECB is due to start new money printing measures next week, keeping prospects of a eurozone interest rate rise well into the future. The US might start to raise rates in the next few months however it is thought. That sees the pound going in the opposite direction versus the dollar (against which it fell close to 1.50 today - a level which it has only closed below once since the summer of 2013).

Essentially, what all this means is that the wheat market likely to have the most upside potential this year would appear to be the one in Europe, which is what makes this week's Paris wheat decline particularly interesting.

Euro weakness keeps aiding EU exports. Brussels said that they'd issued 505 TMT worth of soft wheat export licences this past week, taking the cumulative season to date total to 21.3 MMT, which is 2.4% ahead of last year's record pace.

If there is any upside potential for the wheat market in 2015, then the most likely driving influence still seems set to be Russia/Ukraine.

Early spring plantings are now underway in both countries, and winter crops there will soon be emerging from dormancy, and as snow cover clears we will soon start to get a more accurate assessment of what crop conditions are like.

APK Inform estimate Ukraine's winter crop losses at 8%, forecasting winter wheat yields this year to average 3.02 MT/ha, with those of barley at 2.47 MT/ha and OSR at 1.96 MT/ha.

Winter wheat yields in Ukraine averaged 4.0 MT/ha last year, according to the country's Hydrometeorlogical Centre, so an average yield of 0.98 MT/ha less in 2015 represents a fall of nearly 25% year-on-year.

APK Inform said that they expect Ukraine spring grain plantings to include 4.3 million ha of corn, 2.1 million ha of barley and 226k ha of wheat.

Fertiliser prices in Ukraine meanwhile are said to have more than trebled year-on-year in hryvnia terms.

The Ukraine Agrarian Confederation head today said that almost 100% of small to medium-sized agri companies in the country were unable to obtain credit to fund their spring planting campaign and aid the purchase of inputs. The few that can get credit were being asked to pay interest rates in excess of 30%, he added.

The situation in Russia might not be quite so bad, but it certainly isn't what you would call good either, with an estimated 20% of winter crops in poor condition. For all the government's insistence that subsidised loans are available to fund their spring campaign, private reports suggest that getting credit here is also extremely difficult, and for those that can the rates are also punitive.

Currency weakness and raging inflation means that the average Russian household meanwhile will have to spend more than 50% of their weekly budget on food by the end of 2015 a Russian newspaper reported this week. In the UK it's less than 10%.

Chicago Corn Resists Downwards Pull Of Wheat And Soybeans - Just

05/03/15 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed the best part of 10 cents lower. Weekly export sales of 499,500 MT for 2014/15 and a small quantity of new crop were actually towards the top end of trade expectations. US exporters are 98% sold versus the USDA target for the season. Actual weekly shipments were 768,200 MT, down 30 percent from the previous week and 50 percent below the prior 4-week average however. The primary destination was China (490,600 MT). Meal sales were 130,200 MT for 2014/15 plus 28,400 MT for 2015/16. Actual shipments of soymeal during the week were strong at 259,800 MT, and were up 20 percent from the previous week. The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange left their Argentine soybean production estimate unchanged at a record 57 MMT, despite noting widespread flooding in Córdoba and Santa Fe, as highlighted yesterday by the Rosario Exchange. They did however say that they may adjust their estimate in the coming weeks when the affect of any yield losses could be better assessed. Brazil upped their interest rates to a 6-year high of 12.75% overnight in an effort to combat inflation. The FAO's AMIS estimated the global 2014/15 soybean crop at 314 MMT, up 1 MMT from their last forecast and more than 10% up on a year previously. Ending stocks were pegged at 42 MMT, unchanged from last time, but 40% up on a year ago. MDA CropCast were unchanged on their forecasts for the Brazilian (93.5 MMT) and Argentine (57.3 MMT) soybean crops. The trade is now starting to eye next week's USDA WASDE report, and also the Mar 31 provisional planting intentions numbers. Mar 15 Soybeans closed at $9.79 1/4, down 9 3/4 cents; May 15 Soybeans closed at $9.85 1/2, down 8 1/2 cents; Mar 15 Soybean Meal closed at $334.40, up $0.30; Mar 15 Soybean Oil closed at 31.43, down 60 points.

Corn: The corn market scraped its way a nominal cent or so higher, despite downwards pressure from beans and wheat. Weekly export sales of 828,100 MT for 2014/15 were up 16 percent from the previous week, but down 5 percent from the prior 4-week average. There were also sales of 158,700 MT for 2015/16. That was at the top end of trade estimates for combined sales of 700,000 MT to 1 MMT, US exporters are now 80% sold versus the USDA target for the season, compared to 71% sold typically and 77% this time last year. As US soybean exports slow down, there's more free capacity to ship corn. Actual weekly US corn shipments of 1,378,800 MT - a marketing-year high - were up 59 percent from the previous week and 91 percent above the prior 4-week average. That clearly added some support today. Private exporters also reported to the USDA export sales of 108,000 MT of grain sorghum to unknown. The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange said that this year's Argentine corn harvest is only 2.7% complete, up just one point on a week ago. Things have been held up by heavy rain in many parts of the corn belt, especially citing the states of Córdoba and Santa Fe. Nevertheless, they remained unchanged on their production outlook at 22.5 MMT, a 16.6% decline on a year ago. MDA CropCast were also unchanged on their outlook for both Argentina (23.1 MMT) and also Brazil (75.7 MMT). They cut their forecast for South Africa by 1.9 MMT to 11 MMT however due to continued dryness issues. The FAO's AMIS raised their forecast for the world 2014/15 corn crop by 2 MMT to 1020 MMT, which is now 11 MMT more than in 2013/14. They also upped ending stocks by 2 MMT to 210 MMT, a 19.3% rise versus last season. Macquairie said that Ukraine corn production this year could fall 15% to 23 MMT due to farmers' financial problems, reduced fertiliser applications and use of sprays etc. FranceAgriMer estimated French Feb 1 corn stocks to be 38% higher than a year ago at 7.41 MMT. Mar 15 Corn closed at $3.82 3/4, up 1 1/4 cents; May 15 Corn closed at $3.90 1/2, up 1 cent.

Wheat: The wheat market extended recent losses, closing around 10-12 cents lower. The firmer US dollar didn't help, even if weekly export sales of 469,600 MT for delivery in the 2014/15 marketing year were up 43 percent from the previous week and 34 percent above the prior 4-week average. These sales did however include material purchased by Egypt using a special line of credit extended to it by the US that were previously known about. There were also sales of 38,000 MT for 2015/16. Actual shipments themselves of 485,600 MT were down 2 percent from the previous week, but up 14 percent from the prior 4-week average. The FAO's AMIS raised their forecast for the 2014/15 world wheat crop by 3 MMT to a new record 727 MMT, up 1.5% from a year previously. Ending stocks were increased 7 MMT to 199 MMT, a 3.6% increase versus 2013/14 with much larger inventories projected in Asia and Europe. Production in 2015/16 is seen falling only modestly, down 1% to 720 MMT. Lower output in Europe, Russia and Ukraine will be offset by increases elsewhere. Kazakhstan's crop will rise 8% to 13.5 MMT, Australia's is seen up 10.2% to 26 MMT, whilst Canada's will rise 2.4% to 30 MMT. There will also be a small increase in US wheat production of 1.6% to 56 MMT, they predicted. They don't see too many problem areas around the world in 2015. "In the northern hemisphere, winter wheat conditions are generally favourable and the crop is mostly dormant. In the EU, the crop is generally in good condition. In the US, the crop is progressing normally though there is concern in the southern Great Plains due to dry conditions. In China, conditions remain favourable. In Russia and Ukraine, the crop is dormant and conditions are mostly favourable despite the earlier dry conditions during crop establishment in the fall. In India, conditions are mostly favourable," they said. Mar 15 CBOT Wheat closed at $4.81 1/4, down 12 1/4 cents; Mar 15 KCBT Wheat closed at $5.14, down 9 1/2 cents; Mar 15 MGEX Wheat closed at $5.47, down 10 1/4 cents.

EU Grains Mostly Lower Amid "Heavy Supplies"

05/03/15 -- EU grains closed mostly a little lower on the day, despite some early support from dollar strength compared to both the pound and euro.

The day ended with  Mar 15 London wheat down GBP0.15/tonne at GBP116.60/tonne, Mar 15 Paris wheat was down EUR1.75/tonne at EUR182.75/tonne, Jun 15 Paris corn rose EUR0.75/tonne to EUR157.75/tonne and May 15 Paris rapeseed was down EUR4.50/tonne at EUR361.25/tonne.

The FAO raised their forecast for the 2014/15 global wheat crop by 3 MMT to a record 727 MMT, and up 11 MMT on a year previously. Ending stocks were hiked 7 MMT to 199 MMT, which is 20 MMT more than a year previously.

"Heavy supplies, strong competition for export business and mostly good prospects for the 2015 global harvest pressured wheat markets. While Russia’s exports started to slow, availabilities elsewhere were seen as more than adequate to compensate. Demand for EU wheat, in particular, stayed strong, with export sales maintaining a record pace," they noted.

Production prospects for 2015/16 are seen at 720 MMT on a global level, a relatively modest 1% decline on this season.

In Europe however next season's crop is estimated down 5.5% at 147 MMT, with Russia's seen falling 6.8% to 55 MMT and Ukraine's down 8.3% to 22 MMT,

"In the EU, the crop is generally in good condition and is well developed owing to the mild winter conditions. Only local and limited frost-kill damages may have occurred in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Poland," they said.

In Russia "the crop is dormant and conditions are mostly favourable under normal weather conditions. Earlier dry conditions in the fall, and subsequent below average temperatures may have reduced crop hardiness and therefore there could be some need to re-sow in the spring though this will only be determined after snowmelt," they added.

Various experts gathered at a grain conference in Rostov, Russia threw their tentative early grain production forecasts into the ring for Russia later this year.

The President of the Russian Grain Union was perhaps the most diverse. He said that the country would most likely produce around 93-94 MMT of grains this year, down around 10% from 103.8 MMT in 2014.

He did however also say that production could rise to 100 MMT "under ideal circumstances and availability of resources" - I don't think that many people would bet that Russian growers are going to get either of those conditions this year.

In a worst case scenario he said that output could drop to 75-78 MMT, a 25-28% decline. He didn't however think that things were likely to get as bad as this, he added.

Domestic Russian grain consumption in 2015/16 was estimated at around 70 MMT, so if the latter scenario were to come to pass, then that wouldn't leave a great deal left over to export - although note that carry-in stocks are seen at an unusually high 17 MMT following the recent introduction of the current export duty and Russian growers' reluctance to sell.

In Ukraine, the head of the Hydrometeorlogical Centre estimated 2015 winter wheat yields to fall 8%, with production down to 21-22 MMT versus 24.3 MMT a last year. Around 1.2 million ha of autumn sown crops may need replanting, he said.

In other news, FranceAgriMer estimated French grain stocks as of Feb 1 to be 22% higher than a year ago at 21.54 MMT. Soft wheat accounts for 9.22 MMT of that total (up 13%), barley 3.94 MMT (up 31%) and corn 7.41 MMT (up 38%).

Defra said that the volume of wheat milled in the UK in the 4 weeks to Jan 24 was up 5.3% on a year ago at 542,100 MT. mainly due to increased usage by UK bioethanol plants which were then working at a higher rate than last year. The proportion of home grown wheat in the grist was up 6.1% at 456,100 MT.

Meanwhile the latest statistics on cereal usage in animal feed in the UK show wheat losing a little bit of market share to barley. "Wheat accounted for 68.2% of total cereals (wheat, barley, corn and oats) used in retail compound feed production in January, compared with 68.9% in December. The percentage of barley, however, went up from 22.1% to 23.3%," note the HGCA.

Chicago Markets End Lower, With Corn Managing Best Resistance

04/03/15 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed the best part of 20 cents lower, pressured by the strong dollar. Reduced tensions in Brazil between striking truckers and the government, and weakness of the Brazilian Real were also a factor as the harvest there grinds on, and is probably around a third done by now. The leading producing state of Mato Grosso is already past halfway complete. Early soybean yields from the south of the country (which had ample rainfall throughout the season) are said to be very good. The Brazilian producer seems to think that Chicago beans above $10 are a sell, at least in Real terms. On a note of caution, the Rosario Grain Exchange said that what had thus far been considered "ample" rains were now turning to being "excessive" in some parts. Areas of Córdoba and Santa Fe have picked up 300-600 mm in the last 32 days versus an average annual rainfall of 750-1100 mm - thus some places have picked up half a year's worth of rain in little more than a month. It is impossible to know at this stage what the impact on productivity will be, they said. The USDA release their latest WASDE report next Tuesday, with the trade expecting US 2014/15 soybean ending stocks to fall to around 377 million bushels versus 385 million a month ago. Mar 15 Soybeans closed at $9.89, down 19 3/4 cents; May 15 Soybeans closed at $9.94, down 18 1/4 cents; Mar 15 Soybean Meal closed at $334.10, down $7.70; Mar 15 Soybean Oil closed at 32.03, down 77 points.

Corn: The corn market closed a little lower, pressured by weak soybeans and wheat and the firming US dollar. The US Energy Dept reported that US ethanol production slipped to a four-month low of 931,000 barrels/day during the week, down from 947,000 bpd the previous week. Stocks were thus down from a week ago, although only slightly at 21.5 million barrels. Developments in Ukraine and Russia continue to suggest reduced corn plantings this spring due to rapidly rising costs of sowing an input hungry crop. More of what does get sown is likely to be of lower yielding non-hybrid (cheaper) seed too. Ukraine raised interest rates from 19.5% to an eye-watering 30% overnight. Russian inflation rose by the highest monthly level in almost 16 years in January and the Russian Economic Development Ministry said that domestic fertiliser prices are up 45.2% year on year, and that the pace of increase is rising (up nearly 10% in January alone). South Korea's Kocopia are tendering for 55,000 MT of optional origin corn for June shipment. FranceAgriMer said that French corn stocks as of Feb 1 were up 38% on a year ago at 7.4 MMT, helped by last year's record 17.7 MMT corn crop. France exported 3.57 MMT of corn in the first half of the 2014/15 season, an increase of 25.8%, they added. Export potential this year is just under 6.7 MMT, they said. The weak euro will be helping their campaign. Ukraine said that their 2014/15 corn exports now stand at 11.27 MMT. Mar 15 Corn closed at $3.81 1/2, down 1/2 cent; May 15 Corn closed at $3.89 1/2, down 1 1/2 cents.

Wheat: The wheat market closed lower across the board, although the magnitude of those losses was quite different across the three exchanges, Chicago wheat fared the worst, slipping back below the $5/bu mark. The strong US dollar offered no support whatsoever to a US wheat market looking for export opportunities but finding that these are generally limited to traditional type homes only. There's some talk of Chinese interest in a cargo or two of US HRS wheat, but that's about it. That explains the relative strength shown by Minneapolis wheat today. The weak euro further compounds the issue. The US dollar hit its highest levels versus the euro since September 2003 today. Russia said that 80% of winter grains are in good condition and 20% poor. Despite that, the country could still harvest a 100 MMT grain crop in 2015, the Ag Ministry wittily suggested. That figure seems high, given the state of winter crops, lack of credit, rising inflation etc, etc. Still, there we have it. The Ministry often find that 95-100 MMT is as good a starting point as any around this time of year. Rusagrotrans said that Russia's wheat exports in February were "only" 450,000 MT, around 4.5 times less than the volume shipped out in January before the new export duty kicked in. Spring planting is said to be underway in one or two places in Russia and Ukraine as the weather warms up. Ukraine said that they'd exported 24.68 MMT of grains so far this season of which 9.29 MMT was wheat. Mar 15 CBOT Wheat closed at $4.93 1/2, down 15 1/4 cents; Mar 15 KCBT Wheat closed at $5.23 1/2, down 7 cents; Mar 15 MGEX Wheat closed at $5.57 1/4, down 4 cents.

EU Grains Mixed, Euro Weakness Aids Paris Market

04/03/15 -- EU grains closed mixed. Continued euro weakness added a bit of support to the Paris market.

At the finish, Mar 15 London wheat was down GBP0.45/tonne at GBP116.75/tonne; Mar 15 Paris wheat was EUR0.75/tonne lower at EUR187.50/tonne; Mar 15 Paris corn was EUR1.50/tonne easier at EUR146.25/tonne; May 15 Paris rapeseed was EUR1.00/tonne higher at EUR365.75/tonne.

The HGCA reported winter wheat plantings in England and Wales as of Dec 1 at 1.69 million hectares, a 7% decline year-on-year. Winter barley plantings were up slightly on 370k ha a year ago at 371k ha, which is the largest area since 2003, they say. Winter OSR plantings of 633k ha are 1% down compared to the area of both winter and spring OSR harvested in 2014.

The decline in wheat plantings is a little surprising, although the final area could alter allowing for crops planted after Dec 1 and possibly a small spring sown crop.

As of Dec 1, the total area planted with wheat, winter barley, oats and oilseed rape was 2.776 million ha, 5% less than the total area of these crops harvested in 2014, they estimate.

"Potential factors include increased interest in cultural controls for weeds and diseases, particularly black-grass, as well as changes to the economics for the whole rotation. The higher yields of winter crops are worth comparatively less at lower prices – increasing the incentive to plant spring crops. The introduction of the three-crop rule as part of the latest changes to the Common Agricultural Policy may also have had an impact,” the HGCA said.

Ukraine growers wondering how they are going to finance their spring planting and crop treatment campaign woke up to a nasty shock this morning. The Ukraine government hiked interest rates overnight from 19.5% to 30%.

UkrAgroConsult yesterday forecast Ukraine's 2015 OSR production to fall 23% to 1.7 MMT. Less than half the winter crop is said to be in good condition. That potentially leaves Europe looking elsewhere to cover the shortfall, as most of Ukraine's annual OSR exports usually end up here. Ukraine typically account for around 14% of all global rapeseed exports, according to the HGCA.

Ukraine's Ag Ministry said that the country had exported 24.68 MMT of grains so far this season, including 9.29 MMT of wheat, 3.87 MMT of barley and 11.27 MMT of corn.

It seems unlikely that they will manage to attain those sort of levels in 2015/16. Yields look set to be lower, and quality could be an even bigger issue given that growers are likely to be forced to reduce fertiliser and agrochemical applications.

This situation is also likely to be replicated in Russia this spring. The Russian Ministry for Economic Development said today that fertiliser prices in the country rose 9.8% in January and are up 45.2% year-on-year. Loan rates there are said to be running at around 25-30%. Russian inflation meanwhile rose by its highest monthly rate since 1999 in January.

Chicago Grains Mixed, Brazilian Trucker Strike Seen Easing

03/03/15 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed a little lower on reports that the Brazilian truckers strike is losing momentum. Media reports say that only around 7 roads in Brazil remain blocked by striking truck drivers versus 18 roads yesterday and over 100 roads a week ago. There's now talk of Argentine farmers striking next week. Informa cut their estimate for the 2014/15 Brazilian soybean crop by 1 MMT to 92.5 MMT. This was offset however by a 1 MMT rise for Argentina to 58 MMT. Conab are due out next Tuesday with their latest Brazilian estimates. Dr Cordonnier was unchanged on his forecasts for both Brazil (93 MMT) and Argentina (57 MMT). Chinese industry analysts said that the country had crushed 29.2 MMT of soybeans between Oct 1 and Feb 27, a 1.57% increase compared with the same period a year previously. They estimated March soybean imports at 4.5 MMT, rising to 5.2 MMT in April and 5.6 MMT in May. Oil World said that EU palm oil imports fell by 4% in the fourth quarter of 2014. India’s 2014/15 veg oil imports were estimated at 12.5-13.0 MMT versus 11.6 MMT in 2013/14. Mar 15 Soybeans closed at $10.08 3/4, down 2 1/2 cents; May 15 Soybeans closed at $10.12 1/4, down 1 1/2 cents; Mar 15 Soybean Meal closed at $341.80, down $2.50; Mar 15 Soybean Oil closed at 32.80, up 15 points.

Corn: The corn market closed around 3 cents higher. For now, tensions are easing in Brazil, with a meeting between the government and protesters lined up for a week from today. Informa have the Brazilian 2014/15 corn crop now estimated at 72.4 MMT versus a previous estimate of 72.8 MMT. For Argentina they go 23.5 MMT versus a previous estimate of 23.0 MMT. As with soybeans the reduction in Brazil is offset by the increase in Argentina. "They cited results from planting surveys as the reason for the loss in production in Brazil, and higher yields as the reason for the Argentinian increase," said Benson Quinn. Informa now have South Africa’s 2014/15 corn crop is estimated at 10.1 MMT versus a previous estimate of 13.0 MMT. Dr Cordonnier estimated Brazil's 2014/15 corn crop at 74 MMT, and went for 23 MMT in Argentina. Both figures were unchanged from a week ago. Egypt and Algeria are said to be shopping for corn. Argentine farmers are reported to be calling for a 3 day strike next week on Wednesday–Friday. There's talk that Argentine truckers may also strike in the latter half of the month. Mar 15 Corn closed at $3.82, up 3 1/4 cents; May 15 Corn closed at $3.91, up 3 cents.

Wheat: The wheat market closed anywhere from virtually unchanged to up to 15 cents higher. Monthly winter wheat crop ratings put the Kansas crop at 44% good to excellent, down 2 points on a month ago. Kansas wheat rated poor to very poor was 12% versus 13% a month ago. Oklahoma was 42% good to excellent and 14% poor/very poor versus 41% and 13% respectively at the end of January. Illinois winter wheat was 47% good to excellent (versus 49% a month ago) and 13% poor/very poor (unchanged). Texas wheat is 46% good to excellent and 12% poor/very poor versus 42% and 16% a month ago. Nebraska is 62% good to excellent and 3% poor to very poor versus 61% and 3% at the end of January. Japan are in for 130,929 MT of milling wheat from the US, Canada, and Australia for April–May shipment in their regular weekly tender. Informa estimated India’s 2015 wheat crop at 97.0 MMT versus previous estimate of 96.0 MMT. Harvesting of that usually begins at the end of March. Kazakhstan’s Ag Ministry said that the country had exported 4.4 MMT of grain between July 1-Feb 28th versus 6.0 MMT a year ago. They estimate full season exports at 7.0 MMT. Mar 15 CBOT Wheat closed at $5.08 3/4, up 3/4 cent; Mar 15 KCBT Wheat closed at $5.30 1/2, up 9 1/2 cents; Mar 15 MGEX Wheat closed at $5.61 1/4, up 15 cents.

EU Grains Mostly Higher, Fresh News Lacking

03/03/15 -- EU grains closed mixed, but mostly a little higher.

At the finish, Mar 15 London wheat was GBP0.25/tonne firmer at GBP117.20/tonne, Mar 15 Paris wheat was EUR0.50/tonne higher at EUR185.25/tonne, Mar 15 Paris corn was down EUR0.50/tonne at EUR147.75/tonne and May 15 Paris rapeseed also fell EUR0.50/tonne to EUR364.75/tonne.

Significant fresh news was once again lacking.

Egypt's GASC bought 110,000 MT of Russian and Ukraine origin wheat in a tender. This was for grain that was already stored in the country on a free on truck basis.

The Ukraine Ag Ministry said that they expect higher winter wheat losses than normal this year, according to Agritel.

UkrAgroConsult said Ukraine exported 2.963 MMT of grain in February, of which 681,000 MT was wheat.

They estimated Ukraine’s 2015 rapeseed production at 1.7 MMT versus 2.2 MMT in 2014.

APK Inform said that Ukraine had exported a record 8.4 MMT of wheat in he Jul14/Jan15 period, a 22% increase on the same period in 2013/14.

Russia also exported a record 18 MMT in the same period, up 35% versus a year previously, they added.

Russia's Ag Ministry said that agricultural lending for the 2015 sowing campaign is down by a third compared to a year ago. That's a very significant amount considering that the vale of the rouble has plummeted in the last 12 months, making the cost of sowing in real terms anywhere between 40-100% higher than a year ago.

Russia only managed to pick up 3,105 MT of grain at today's intervention purchase round.

Chicago Grains Trade Lower To Start The Week

02/03/15 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed the best part of 20 cents lower after a firmer opening and overnight trade. Media reports suggest an easing of the Brazilian trucker strike action over the weekend. "There are reports that Brazilian roads are being cleared and the number of trucks dumping at port has improved. Despite the lack of a formal agreement, it feels like the truckers are losing their leverage on this issue," said Benson Quinn. Weekly export inspections are finally starting to slip at 635,164 MT versus the expected 750-950,000 MT. Safras e Mercado reported that the Brazilian soybean harvest is 28% complete versus 17% a week ago, 41% a year ago and 32% on average. Mato Grosso is 51% complete, up sharply from 25% a week ago, but still down versus 60% a year ago and 54% on average, they said. AgRural said Brazil has harvested 29% of their soybean crop versus 20% a week ago, 39% a year ago and 33% on average. The Brazilian Ministry said that the country exported 870 TMT of beans in February, down sharply from 2.79 MMT in February 2014. Mar 15 Soybeans closed at $10.11 1/4, down 19 1/2 cents; May 15 Soybeans closed at $10.13 3/4, down 18 cents; Mar 15 Soybean Meal closed at $344.30, down $9.40; Mar 15 Soybean Oil closed at 32.65, down 15 points.

Corn: The corn market ended around 5 cents lower. That came despite weekly export inspections of 1.28 MMT easily beating trade expectations of 750-900,000 MT. An easing of tensions in Brazil was probably the main downwards driver. "Early morning reports had mixed opinions regarding the amount of progress the Brazilian government had over the weekend in diffusing the trucker strike. Reports indicated that the majority of roads blocks nationwide had been cleared, down from around 50 on Saturday to around 10 on Sunday evening," said Benson Quinn. Safras e Mercado said that Brazil 1st corn crop harvest is 25.9% complete versus 20.7% a week ago and 40.6% a year ago. Brazil's 2nd corn crop planting is at 58.4% complete versus 39.5% a week ago 55.7% a year ago, they added. The Brazilian Ministry reported February corn exports at 1.1 MMT, which is similar to a year previously. Ukraine said that they had exported 10.9 MMT of corn so far this season versus around 14.2 MMT a year ago. Russia's corn exports stand at 1.4 MMT. There's continued talk of lower corn plantings in Ukraine and Russia this year due to financial considerations. There's also talk of what does get sown to be of inferior quality and thus lower yielding varieties. Mar 15 Corn closed at $3.78 3/4, down 5 3/4 cents; May 15 Corn closed at $3.88, down 5 1/4 cents.

Wheat: The wheat market closed lower. Weekly export inspections of 450,093 MT were towards the upper end of expectations. Lower trade in corn and beans didn't help wheat's cause today though. Neither did falling prices in Paris wheat, which is already priced very competitively versus US origin material. The USDA attaché in India estimated India’s 2015 wheat crop at 94.0 MMT, down from the 2014 crop of 95.9 MMT. They estimated wheat exports at 2.0 MMT versus 3.5 MMT last year. Ukraine said that they'd exported 9.2 MMT of wheat so far this season. Russia said that they'd shipped 18.8 MMT of wheat so far. APK Inform reported Ukraine's seaports shipped out 125.3 TMT of wheat last week. Russia's wheat shipments via seaports were similar at 126.4 TMT, they added. Ukraine has apparently asked the EU to increase duty free import quotas on agri products due to the ongoing problems with Russia. ABARES increased their estimate for Australian wheat production to 24.4 MMT from 23.6 MMT a year ago. There's still some talk of possible winterkill damage to US, Ukraine and Russian wheat. "In terms of the US crop, it looks like the bulk of the US HRW crop has gotten moisture and much of it will have some snow cover when cold temps hit on Wed and Thurs morning," said Benson Quinn. Mar 15 CBOT Wheat closed at $5.08, down 9 1/2 cents; Mar 15 KCBT Wheat closed at $5.21, down 13 1/2 cents; Mar 15 MGEX Wheat closed at $5.55, down 1 cent.

EU Grains Mostly Lower To Start The Week

02/03/15 -- EU grains closed mostly lower on the day, although Mar 15 London wheat was up GBP0.15/tonne at GBP116.95/tonne, Mar 15 Paris wheat was down EUR2.75/tonne at EUR184.75/tonne, Mar 15 Paris corn fell EUR1.25/tonne to EUR148.25/tonne and May 15 Paris rapeseed was down EUR3.00/tonne at EUR362.25/tonne.

Fresh news was generally lacking to start the week.

Ukraine seaports exported 459.2 TMT of grains last week, down from 587.6 TMT the previous week, according to APK Inform. Last week's total included 125.3 TMT of wheat and 333.9 TMT of corn.

Exports for the season so far are now 24.3 MMT, of which 9.2 MMT is wheat. 3.9 MMT is barley and 10.9 MMT is corn. This time a year ago shipments were around 24 MMT, including 7.3 MMT of wheat, 2.1 MMT of barley and 14.2 MMT of corn.

Russia has exported a similar volume to Ukraine so far this year (24.2 MMT), including 18.8 MMT of wheat, 3.7 MMT of barley and 1.4 MMT of corn.

The weather in southern Russia and Ukraine is said to be turning warmer and wetter, which should enable a better assessment to be made of winter sown grain crop conditions and aid spring fieldwork.

The Ukraine Ministry said hat fertiliser applications had been completed on around 2 million ha of winter crops, out of a planted area of almost 9 million ha. Crop conditions remain at 82% good to satisfactory and 18% poor, they said.

UkrAgroConsult said that Ukraine's 2015 barley crop could fall to 7.0 MMT versus 9.0 MMT in 2014.

The Russian newspaper "Vedomosti" said that the average Russian will spend 50-55% of their household income on food by the end of 2015, up from 36-40% at the end of 2014.

Oil World estimated global rapeseed production at 69.1 MMT in 2014/15, up from a previous forecast of 68.5 MMT, but down from 70.2 MMT the year before. World rapeseed usage this season is seen at 66.9 MMT.