Chicago Closing Comments - Friday

29/11/13 -- Soycomplex: If the market was a bit unsettled by news on Wednesday that China had cancelled 300 TMT of existing US soybean sales, then it needn't have been. The USDA today reported soybean export sales of over 1.4 MMT, of which China took almost a million tonnes (992,900 MT). Talk that China doesn't really need all these beans and has only bought them for protection against possible shipping delays in South America later in the season was partially quashed by weekly exports of 1,843,800 MT also being primarily to China (1,326,300 MT). The US now has 93% of the USDA's soybean export target for the 2013/14 season on the books already. The 5-year average at this time is said to be around 67%. In addition the USDA also reported sales of 110 TMT of soybeans to China for 2014/15 delivery under the daily reporting system. Rising prices will of course encourage increased plantings in South America. The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange forecast that Argentine growers will plant 20.45 million hectares of soybeans this year, up from their previous estimate of 20.2 million and 3.8% more than the 19.7 million planted for 2012/13. Brazilian farmers will also plant more beans, with Dr Cordonnier forecasting production there in 2014 at 90 MMT, almost 10% higher than this year. US producers are also thought likely to "go large" with soybean plantings in the spring, encouraged by current price differentials with corn. Jan 14 Soybeans closed at $13.36 1/2, up 16 1/2 cents; Mar 14 Soybeans closed at $13.17 3/4, up 11 1/2 cents; Dec 13 Soybean Meal closed at $456.60, up $10.70; Dec 13 Soybean Oil closed at 40.22, up 22 points.

Corn: The corn market closed a holiday-shortened session a couple of cents lower. Weekly export sales came in at 1 MMT, in line with trade expectations of 800 TMT to 1.1 MMT. Unknown destinations (339,400 MT) were the largest buyer, followed by South Korea (178,700 MT) and China (131,500 MT). Exports of 701,000 MT were primarily to China (272,700 MT), Mexico (176,200 MT) and Japan (109,400 MT). Total net sales commitments on corn are now 71% of the USDA's forecast for the season versus 67% this time last year. The Chinese purchases and shipments came despite trade concerns that US corn exports there could be hit following the news that China rejected some more US transgenic corn overnight. Demand for US corn from the ethanol sector is going well, up 15.44% from a year ago, as margins remain healthy. US producer selling is said to be sluggish at these levels. The French corn harvest is making only very slow progress, at 73% done versus 98% a year ago. The Russian corn harvest is 79% done at 10.1 MMT. The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange cut their forecast for the Argentine corn planted area for 2013/14 from 3.46 million hectares to 3.3 million, down almost 12% compared with a year ago. The reduction is partly due to drought in a large part of the Pampas earlier in the year and a shift into soybean production, they said. There's talk of delayed Brazilian corn shipments arriving in Asia and swamping the market with physical supplies, potentially depressing fresh demand for US corn. Indian and Thai corn is also being offered cheaply into Asian homes. Dec 13 Corn closed at $4.15 1/4, down 2 cents; Mar 14 Corn closed at $4.24 1/2, down 2 cents.

Wheat: Wheat was mixed, up a bit in Chicago, flat in Kansas and down a little in Minneapolis. US export sales came in at 562,200 MT, including Nigeria (136,800 MT), unknown destinations (118,600 MT), Egypt (110,000 MT), China (59,700 MT) and Mexico (48,600 MT). That was within the range of trade estimates of 375-625 TMT. The Argentine Ministry forecast the wheat crop there this year at only 8.5 MMT, which is lower then the previously reported (and subsequently withdrawn as being incomplete) estimate of 8.8 MMT. The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange on the other hand stood by their estimate for a 2013/14 Argentine wheat crop of 10.35 MMT, adding that the harvest was 19.7% complete, around six points behind normal. The Russian grain harvest has moved slowly on to just under 95% complete, producing bunker weight a crop of 95.1 MMT to date, according to the Ag Ministry. Wheat accounts for just over 54 MMT of that, with almost 98% of the crop now harvested. SovEcon raised their forecast for Russia's 2013/14 grain exports from 20 MMT to 21 MMT, including 14.5 MMT of wheat. Chinese domestic wheat prices are said to be at, or close to, record levels. With quality milling wheat in short supply, the government sold 94% of the 650 TMT of wheat offered up for auction this week. There's talk that they will be back in the market to import wheat again as soon as the government issues fresh import quotas. Dec 13 CBOT Wheat closed at $6.55, up 3 3/4 cents; Dec 13 KCBT Wheat closed at $7.13 1/4, up 1/4 cent; Dec 13 MGEX Wheat closed at $6.86 3/4, down 3 1/2 cents.

Paris Wheat Closes At Best Levels Since May

29/11/13 -- EU grains closed mostly higher with Jan 14 London wheat ending up GBP0.25/tonne at GBP164.50/tonne and Jan 14 Paris milling wheat settling EUR1.00/tonne firmer to close at EUR209.75/tonne. Feb 14 Paris rapeseed fell EUR1.00/tonne to EUR378.00/tonne, whilst Jan 14 Paris corn closed EUR1.25/tonne higher at EUR177.75/tonne.

There were mostly modest gains for the week overall, London wheat added just GBP0.25/tonne, Paris rapeseed was unchanged, Paris corn nudged EUR1.25/tonne firmer whilst Paris wheat gained EUR3.25/tonne. Even this relatively modest gain was enough to make this the highest close on a front month for Paris wheat since May.

That rise has been a gradual claw higher, rather than a meteoric rise however as Paris wheat continues to garner support from strong export demand - Brussels issued a further 577 TMT of soft wheat export licenses this week. That takes the total volume granted so far to 11.2 MMT, more than 50% higher than in the same period 12 months ago. Success in this week's Egyptian wheat tender is also friendly, even if they did only buy one cargo.

US wheat was offered at a substantial discount to French origin however, but missed out due to freight. Romanian wheat was also cheaper (although only one cargo was offered, indicating that supplies are running low after their early season aggression) but the Egyptians said that this consignment didn't meet the tender terms.

Traders are already starting to look at crop prospects for 2014, with SovEcon this week forecasting a Russian grain crop of around 86-90 MMT in clean weight versus their estimate for this year of 89.5 MMT. They estimate this year's Russian wheat crop at 51.1 MMT after cleaning and drying, suggesting that output next year may fall by 3-4 MMT due to lower winter wheat plantings.

Lanworth are a bit more optimistic over the prospects for Russian wheat in 2014, forecasting the crop similar to this year at 51.7 MMT. With winter grains planting only completed on less than 90% of the originally intended target, that may be a tall order. Lanworth see Ukraine's wheat output up by around 1 MMT to 23 MMT next year, again that could be aiming a bit on the high side given that winter plantings are also down here. Spring acreage faces competition from corn, barley, sunflower, rapeseed and even the rapidly expanding FSU soybean crop.

Things look better closer to home. Strategie Grains recently forecast the EU-28 soft wheat planted area rising 4% from 23.2 million hectares to almost 24 million, with production seen increasing 5 MMT to 140 MMT - the highest since 2008 and the second largest on record.

Wheat production prospects across the pond are also bright, with the US crop heading into dormancy rated 62% good/excellent, far better than only 33% a year ago. Lanworth estimate production there to climb 8.6% to 63 MMT for the 2014/15 campaign.

Wet weather in France is slowing both the corn harvest and winter wheat plantings. The former only moved from 67% complete to 73% done in the past week, according to FranceAgriMer. The corn harvest was almost over at 98% done this time a year ago. Meanwhile winter wheat plantings are only 91% complete versus 88% the previous week and 95% this time last year.

As ever then it would seem that prospects look good - great even - in some places, and not so rosy in others, but there's a long way to go yet of course. There's also a record world corn crop weighing on the market this season, and a large price disparity between the two grains. That's capping demand for wheat, and is already discouraging corn plantings in South America. Will the same be replicated in Europe, the FSU and even the US next spring?

EU Grains Mixed In Quiet Trade

28/11/13 -- EU grains closed mixed in a quiet session with America closed for the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

Jan 14 London wheat ended down GBP0.50/tonne at GBP164.25/tonne, Jan 14 Paris wheat finished EUR1.25/tonne firmer at EUR208.75/tonne, Jan 14 Paris corn EUR0.25/tonne higher at EUR176.50/tonne, whilst Feb 14 Paris rapeseed rose EUR0.25/tonne to close at EUR379.00/tonne.

Fresh news was extremely thin on the ground, as might be expected on day like today, so there was never likely to be that much action.

The IGC upped their forecast for the world 2013/14 wheat crop by 2 MMT to 698 MMT, whilst also increasing their global corn production estimate by a similar amount to 950 MMT.

"So far this year, (grain) harvests have generally been better than expected, with the global total now placed up 9% year on year. While some of the output increase is set to be absorbed by higher use, a substantial surplus is expected and end-season stocks are seen up by 41 MMT year on year at a four-year high," they said.

"Looking ahead to 2014/15, winter wheat planting is nearly complete in the northern hemisphere, and the global wheat harvested area is projected to expand by 1.4%, to about 223m ha. The condition of the US crop appears to be much improved year on year," they added.

Ukraine's corn harvest is 90% done at 27 MMT. Russia's grain harvest now stands at almost 95 MMT, including 54 MMT of wheat, 16.3 MMT of barley and almost 10 MMT of corn. The latter being off 77.6% of the planned area.

Russagrotrans estimated Russia's Nov grain exports at 2.4 MMT, followed by 1.8 MMT in December. Total 2013/14 exports were forecast at 22.2 MMT including flour and pulses, or 21.1 MMT excluding them. They see wheat exports at 15.6 MMT, with those of corn at 2.7 MMT and barley at 2.5 MMT.

APK Inform said that Russian growers in the Rostov region are reporting winter wheat emergence at 90-100%, and that crop are generally in good condition going into dormancy.

India are tendering to sell 370 TMT of wheat, with 200 TMT coming out of the west coast port of Mundra, 100 TMT out of the east coast port of Kakinada and 70 TMT from Chennai in the south. All of that is for Jan 4-Feb 3 shipment.

"Winter rapeseed plantings for harvest 2014 have been completed in Europe, with good establishment reported across the region. Strategie Grains estimates a slight reduction (-1%) in the EU-28 rapeseed area to 6.6 million ha for 2014/15," said the HGCA.

Lanworth yesterday estimated the 2014/15 US wheat crop at 63.0 MMT, up 8.6% form 58 MMT this year. That is heading into winter dormancy in pretty good shape, certainly when compared to 12 months ago. The current low world corn prices could also give spring wheat plantings in the US a boost.

Coming Soon (Maybe) To A Cinema Near You: El Nino!

28/11/13 -- There have been a few rumblings that world weather patterns recently are starting to hint at a developing El Nino - "the boy" in Spanish. The name derives from the Christ child, Jesus as he's otherwise known, because this periodic warming in the Pacific near South America is usually noticed around Christmas. Tick, that's coming all right - only 26 days to go!

What is it? And more importantly is it dangerous? What does it mean for crops?

El Nino is a band of anomalously warm ocean water temperatures that periodically develops off the western coast of South America and can cause climatic changes across the Pacific. (Get you Nogger - swallowed a dictionary have we?) One of it's key effects is that it can decimate the fish population off the coast of Peru as it reduces the upwelling of cold, nutrient-rich water that sustains them.

Bollocks to the fish Nogger, I hear (most of) you cry. Let's talk crops. Well, luckily for you I've had an email in from my old chum Gail Martell at Martell Crop Projections to tell me all about it. I can't ask Gail if it's OK for me to share it with you as she's probably knee-deep in giblets right now, so we're just going to have to assume that it is.

"Steady warming has occurred in the central Pacific Ocean indicating an El Nino signal. Modest warming began in the Central Pacific Ocean July-September, weakening in early October but resuming strength recently. A full fledged El Nino if it develops would cause rainfall anomalies in key agricultural areas around the world," says Gail. I bet that's got your interest hasn't it? Well, read on...

"While a full fledged El Nino has not yet developed weather conditions resemble El Nino in 'susceptible' areas. Eastern Australia has become very dry over the past several weeks, while much of Argentina has grown wetter. This see-saw rainfall pattern dry in the western Pacific Basin and wet in Argentina is a classic El Nino signature. Drought in New South Wales has already damaged the wheat outlook for Eastern Australia as harvesting progresses this November. Argentina summer crops corn and soybeans would be strongly affected.

"The southern United States becomes wet in winter. El Nino causes a very strong subtropical jet stream in winter and heavy rainfall in the southern United States. The stormy, wet weather this week is evidence of El Nino. A strong storm today is tracking up the East Coast an offshoot from the southern jet stream, causing heavy rain in the Mid Atlantic states and New England.

"The Indonesian Basin, a key area for palm oil production, is dry with an El Nino. This is the main cooking oil consumed in Asia, produced heavily in Malaysia and Indonesia and exported to China. The tropical oilseed is grown year round. If drought develops from El Nino is would be detrimental for production.

"India is very sensitive to El Nino in the summer, experiencing widespread heat and drought. Rainfall was abundant during the monsoon season June-September promoting the second largest grain harvest on record. The El Nino was not present in India this past summer, the El Nino effect kicked into gear after the monsoon season ended.

"South Africa often suffers from drought with the El Nino, the dry weather occurring November-May. It remains to be seen if drought develops in the weeks and months ahead."

"The El Nino template showing global rainfall anomalies was based on extensive research by Climate Prediction Center scientists Ropelewski and Halpert and released in 1987. While predictable El Nino rainfall patterns are present in the tropics and sub-tropics, the mid latitudes are not affected in Europe, Ukraine, Russia, Mongolia and China." (We're OK then, that's the main thing. And don't worry about the Mongolians - they're safe too).

"Argentina and South Brazil are typically wet with the El Nino during the southern hemisphere summer growing season December-February. The heavy rainfall recently in Argentina may be no accident occurring a an emerging El Nino. The last El Nino in 2010-11 encouraged a bumper grain harvest in Argentina. Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil's southernmost farm state also turns wet with El Nino.

"Brazil’s top soybean state Mato Grosso typically receives abundant rainfall with El Nino especially the top producing areas in the Center and West in the October-December period. At the same time, dry conditions often develop in Northeastern Brazil. The classic El Nino rainfall pattern closely matches current conditions in Brazil."

Click the image at the top of this post to enlarge it for a summary, or just read this precis: Europe/FSU neutral; Australia dry in the east (don't worry about the convicts, as long as we're deliberately losing to them in the cricket, they aren't that bothered). China neutral. Brazil/Argentina wet, big crops. Indonesia dry. US wet in the south - potentially good for winter wheat. South Africa dry (bollocks to them - it's always hot and dry there anyway isn't it?)

Thanks Gail, your a hero. Well, a heroine actually. Have another roast potato or whatever it is that you guys eat over there.

Chicago Markets Mixed Heading Into Thanksgiving

27/11/13 -- Soycomplex: Beans closed lower, after the January contract had earlier raced to fresh post-harvest high of $13.41/bushel on continued strong export demand. The USDA announced 235 TMT of US beans sold to unknown, split 180 TMT for 2013/14 shipment and 55 TMT for 2014/15. Lanworth estimated the 2013/14 global soybean crop at 289.0 MMT, unchanged from their previous estimate, and 5.5 MMT more than the USDA's current forecast. South American weather is mostly favourable. The USDA are due to release the weekly export sales data on Friday, as the markets are closed for Thanksgiving tomorrow. Trade estimates are for another robust week of soybean sales, which are estimated at around 700 TMT - 1.2 MMT. Meal sales are forecast at 150-300 TMT and oil sales at 10-20 TMT. The Energy Dept said that soybean oil used for biodiesel in September was 502 million pounds, down from 510 million in August. Friday is a holiday shortened session, and trade could be thin due to many making a long weekend of it. Today's lower close probably had a lot to do with book-squaring and profit-taking after the recent rally. Producer selling is said to be good with beans over $13/bushel and the inverse market. Everybody is expecting a monster crop from South America in the spring, will we get it? If we do, then front end logistical problems look assured. Record crops could easily equal record shipping delays, particularly in the run up to a World Cup in Brazil. What a great time to strike in an effort to cause maximum disruption. Truckers, dockers, stevedores, customs officials, civil servants, bus drivers, I can see them all fancying taking a pop at the government in an attempt to get more pay and better working conditions. The US look like they will have shipped most of their beans by then so where else do you go? Argentina will also inevitably see an opportunity to go on strike to better their lot too. All that indicates large front end premiums across the summer, possibly record large. Now may well not be the right time to book your soybean/meal requirements for next summer, but getting a large chunk covered well in advance may well prove to be a shrewd move. Jan 14 Soybeans closed at $13.19 1/2, down 9 3/4 cents; Mar 14 Soybeans closed at $13.05 3/4, down 6 1/4 cents; Dec 13 Soybean Meal closed at $446.80, down $3.40; Dec 13 Soybean Oil closed at 39.96, down 39 points.

Corn: The corn market headed into the Thanksgiving Day break mixed. South Korea's KFA bought 58 TMT of US corn and their NOFI Group bought 60 TMT of US corn, both for May shipment. The weekly ethanol grind jumped from 904,000 barrels/day last week to 927,000 bpd this time round. A year ago that was only 803,000 bpd. US ethanol stocks fell 100,000 from last week to 15.0 million barrels - said to be the lowest since weekly record keeping began in 2010 and well down on 18.3 million a year ago. JC Intelligence estimated China’s 2013/14 corn imports at 6.6 MMT, unchanged from their previous estimate and slightly lower than the USDA's figure of 7.0 MMT. They said that China had cancelled one cargo of US corn due to it's GMO status. Lanworth estimated the 2013/14 global corn crop at 963.0 MMT, unchanged from their previous estimate and almost identical to the USDA's 962.8 MMT forecast. Ukraine's Ag Ministry estimated 2013/14 Ukraine grain exports at 32.5 MMT versus previous estimate of 30.0 MMT and up over 40% from 2012/13 exports of 23.0 MMT. Much of that increase is due to corn. Ukraine has exported almost a much corn (5.3 MMT) as wheat (5.9 MMT) in the marketing year to date, and corn exports are now running well ahead of wheat on a week by week basis. Hungary estimated it's 2013/14 corn crop at 6.8 MMT, up 43% versus 4.74 MMT last year. They said that harvesting is 99% complete. Russia's corn harvest is 77% done at 9.9 MMT, with the USDA forecasting production 40% higher at 11.5 MMT this year. Societe Generale forecast US corn prices to rise to "nearly" $5/bushel by the end of 2014, citing "notable" demand for US corn and a likely decline in production in South America in 2013/14. Trade estimates for Friday's weekly export sales report for corn are 800 TMT-1.1 MMT. Dec 13 Corn closed at $4.18, down 1/2 cent; Mar 14 Corn closed at $4.26 1/2, up 1 3/4 cents.

Wheat: The wheat market closed 6 cents lower to 9 cents higher on the day across the three exchanges, with the Kansas market displaying the most strength for a second day on what looks like unwinding of spreads and short-covering. Any shorts in KCBT Dec wheat are getting squeezed. US wheat was out-gunned in the Egyptian tender, but the market can draw some solace from the fact that on an FOB basis it was "priced to sell" at around $20/tonne below the average French/Romanian offerings. MDA CropCast cut their Argentine wheat production forecast by 0.5 MMT from last week to 9.4 MMT. CBH said that the Western Australian grain harvest is advancing rapidly, and that they expect to have taken in 10 MMT of new crop grain by the end of the month, which would be a record for that time. Last year they'd received only 6.4 MMT by the end of November. Lanworth estimated the 2013/14 global wheat crop at 706.0 MMT, down 1 MMT from their previous forecast, but close to the USDA's 706.4 MMT and still a record crop. Looking into next year they forecast the 2014/15 US wheat crop at 63.0 MMT, up 8.6% form 58 MMT this year. They see Russia's 2014/15 wheat crop at 51.7 MMT, similar to this year, with Ukraine's output up by around 1 MMT to 23 MMT. There was talk of 2 cargoes of US HRW having been sold to Brazil. The Indonesian Wheat Flour Mills Association estimated their 2013 wheat imports at 6.5 MMT versus a previous estimate of 7.0 MMT. They placed 2014 wheat imports at 6.5-6.7 MMT. Reuters reported that Indonesia is looking elsewhere than Australia for food imports because of a diplomatic rift over phone bugging accusations. Algeria's government estimated their 2013 grain crop at 4.9 MMT versus 5.1 MMT a year ago. Trade estimates for tomorrow's weekly export sales report are 375-625 TMT. Dec 13 CBOT Wheat closed at $6.53 1/4, up 6 3/4 cents; Dec 13 KCBT Wheat closed at $7.13 1/4, up 9 cents; Dec 13 MGEX Wheat closed at $6.89 1/4, down 6 cents.

EU Grains Within Touching Distance Of Breaking Out Of Recent Trading Range

27/11/13 -- EU grains closed mostly a little firmer, with both London and Paris wheat not quite managing to break through their respective recent trading ceilings of GBP165/tonne and EUR208/tonne, but coming pretty close.

The session ended with Jan 14 London wheat up GBP0.40/tonne at GBP164.75/tonne, Jan 14 Paris wheat EUR1.50/tonne firmer at EUR207.50/tonne, Jan 14 Paris corn up EUR0.50/tonne at EUR176.25/tonne and Feb 14 Paris rapeseed EUR0.50/tonne higher at EUR378.75/tonne.

Egypt's GASC bought 60 TMT of French wheat for Dec 16-31 shipment in their tender. The price paid was USD291.84/tonne FOB plus USD20.98/tonne freight for a net C&F price of USD312.82/tonne.

Whilst US wheat was offered much lower, at USD274.28 FOB, freight costs pushed the price of that up to USD315.75 C&F. Interestingly they didn't book the one cargo of Romanian wheat which was offered at USD295.00/tonne FOB, with freight of only USD14.88/tonne taking the C&F price to USD309.88/tonne.

Russia bought 28,620 MT of wheat in it's now regular twice-weekly tender. That takes the total purchased so far to just under 400 TMT - way below the originally stated target to buy 2-3 MMT by the end of the year, and 5-6 MMT in total in 2013/14.

The Russian harvest is almost 95% complete at 94.8 MMT in bunker weight, including 54 MMT of wheat, 16.3 MMT of barley and 9.9 MMT of corn. The latter being off 77% of the planted area.

Russian analysts ProZerno forecast a clean weight grain harvest of 90-90.2 MMT, up around 27% on last year. They said that Jul/Oct grain exports were 11.5 MMT, and a further 2.5 MMT in Nov and 2.0 MMT in Dec will take the half marketing year total to 16 MMT (Jul/Dec). Full season exports will total 22.0-22.5 MMT, they said. That will include around 16 MMT of wheat, 2.7-3.0 MMT of barley and 2.5-2.6 MMT of corn, they estimate.

The Kazakhstan grain harvest is over at just shy of 21 MMT in bunker weight, a final figure will be issued by the Ministry at the end of December.

The Ukraine harvest is almost complete, and thanks to a bumper corn crop the Ag Ministry there today increased their 2013/14 grain export estimate from a record 30.0 MMT to a new all-time high of 32.5 MMT.

Defra said that the UK had imported 829 TMT of wheat in Q1 of 2013/14 (Jul/Oct), yet only estimated imports for the full season at 1.615 MMT.

UK wheat consumption for feed was forecast 14% down on last year at 5.9 MMT. H&I demand is seen up 3% at 7.8 MMT.

Increased production, and opening stocks of almost 1 MMT, means that UK barley availability is estimated at 8.164 MMT, up 22% versus last season.

Barley used in feed is forecast 6% higher at almost 3.5 MMT, whilst H&I usage is forecast steady at almost 1.86 MMT. That leaves a UK barley surplus of a hefty near 3.5 MMT this season, almost double that of 2012/13. Exports in Q1 of 2013/14 were 256 TMT, up on last year, but a relative drop in the ocean.

In addition "maize imports are forecast to continue at high levels as the relative price of the grain compared with wheat, makes it more competitive for use in animal feed and distilling," they said.

They also noted that the largest oat crop in 40 years means that imports will drop, and that there will be increased oat usage in the animal feed sector.

Will UK wheat imports drop to less than 800 TMT for the final three quarters of the season when we've imported more than that in the first quarter? Also, based on the current barley usage and export pace, there's going to be a lot of that left over at the end of the season. Meanwhile UK grain production looks like it could rebound sharply in 2014.

Do the math, as they say across the pond. It's all right, we can say what we like about them today, they're all stuffing their faces with deep-fried turkey for Thanksgiving Day. Do you know why they call it that? It's because today's the day that Americans give thanks to us for inventing them!

Chicago Markets Mostly Lower In Turnaround Tuesday Trade

26/11/13 -- Soycomplex: Beans traded lower in classic "Turnaround Tuesday" style in a profit-taking retreat after prices hit 2-month highs yesterday, but managed to recover most of those losses by the end of the session to closed around unchanged to 3 cents lower. Very strong demand and only limited South American availability is supporting the nears. Private exporters reported 300 TMT worth of cancellations in soybeans sold to China, but that was more than matched by sales of 360 TMT to "unknown" in what looks like some sort of switch. Talk persists though that more Chinese cancellations are waiting in the wings. Dr Cordonnnier reported that Brazilian growers only have less than 40% of their 2013/14 soybean crop forward sold, versus 60% this time last year. Dr Cordonnier said that whilst long holders of old crop beans in Mato Grosso state can still make a respectable price, equivalent to around $12.49/bushel, the new crop price for delivery Feb/Apr has fallen to around the cost of production - $9.30/bu as at the end of October - which is keeping 2013/14 sales light. Mato Grosso growers have an estimated 45% of their 2013/14 soybean crop sold versus 65% this time last year. He estimates the 2013/14 crop in Brazil at a record 90 MMT, up almost 10% on 2012/13 and 2 MMT higher than the USDA's current forecast. Wet weather is in the forecast for Brazil, which is seen as being beneficial for newly planted beans. Jan 14 Soybeans closed at $13.29 1/4, unchanged; Mar 14 Soybeans closed at $13.12, down 2 3/4 cents; Dec 13 Soybean Meal closed at $450.20, up $13.00; Dec 13 Soybean Oil closed at 40.35, down 31 points.

Corn: The corn market closed around 6 cents weaker, with front month Dec 13 finishing the day only 6 1/2 cents off the contract's lifetime low close. Volume was light, and it's likely to stay that way in a holiday-shortened week. Various news services I use appear to only be releasing abbreviated market reports, or in some cases none at all, as traders fire up their ovens and deep fat fryers for Thursday's Thanksgiving Day holiday. Dr Cordonnier reported that Brazilian farmers in Mato Grosso are estimated to still have 28% of their old crop corn still to sell. Production in 2012/13 was a record you will recall, and prices locally are down to the equivalent of $2.45/bushel, he says. A large carryover into 2013/14 may limit the impact of lower production next year. The Russian corn harvest is now almost 75% done at 9.5 MMT. The Ukraine corn harvest is almost over. The latter are now very much concentrating their export efforts on corn. The trade will be looking to see if tomorrow's ethanol production report from the Energy Dept confirms the recent upswing in output is continuing, and hence supporting domestic demand for corn in the US. Last week's production was 904,000 barrels/day. There's some unconfirmed chatter/gossip that China may have rejected a second cargo of US corn on the grounds of containing strains of a non-approved GMO variety, which would obviously be bearish if true. Dec 13 Corn closed at $4.18 1/2, down 6 1/4 cents; Mar 14 Corn closed at $4.24 3/4, down 6 1/2 cents.

Wheat: Wheat closed around 3-6 cents lower, with the exception of front month Kansas wheat which closed modestly higher. This may have been due to unwinding of spreads across the three exchanges, with the Dec contract moving into delivery a few days from now. India offered a further 70 TMT of wheat up for tender out of the east coast for Dec 26-Jan 31 shipment. There's said to be a much larger 750 TMT tender waiting in the wings. IKAR said that Russia has sold 13.4 MMT (around 2/3rds) of the expected 20 MMT of grains that they will export this season. That 13.4 MMT includes 10.5 MMT of wheat. Russian winter grains plantings are now stalled at 14.6 million hectares, 89.4% of the original target. Jordan bought 50 TMT of the 100 TMT of feed barley that they tendered for. They are also in for 100 TMT of wheat. Bangladesh is a steady wheat buyer, picking up a lowest offer of $313.92 C&F in their tender, which is a bit better than the $314.60 that they were offered last week. Iran is said to be in the market for 300-500 TMT of wheat whilst the trade door remains open. German origin might be the most likely favourite for that. Morocco are also said to be shopping for wheat for delivery in the new year, with France their most likely supplier. Iraq meanwhile has bought Canadian and Australian wheat in the past few days. Dec 13 CBOT Wheat closed at $6.46 1/2, down 6 cents; Dec 13 KCBT Wheat closed at $7.04 1/4, up 3/4 cent; Dec 13 MGEX Wheat closed at $6.95 1/4, down 5 1/2 cents.

EU Grains Mostly Lower In Sideways Trade

26/11/13 -- EU grains closed mostly lower with Jan 14 London wheat ending down GBP0.55/tonne at GBP164.35/tonne and Jan 14 Paris milling wheat settling EUR1.25/tonne weaker to close at EUR206.00/tonne.

Feb 14 Paris rapeseed rose EUR2.25/tonne to EUR378.25/tonne, whilst Jan 14 Paris corn closed EUR0.50/tonne lower at EUR175.75/tonne.

Essentially we are still trading sideways, with real fresh news very thin on the ground. London wheat now hasn't closed outside the very narrow range of GBP163-165/tonne in 22 trading session on a front month. Meanwhile Paris wheat hasn't finished outside the EUR200-208/tonne range on the front month since Oct 17.

Russia bought 28,620 MT of grains for its intervention fund today. That takes the total purchased so far this season to just over 370 TMT. They originally intended to buy 2-3 MMT by the end of the year, which now looks like being 2-3 MMT by the end of the season.

Their harvest rumbles on, at 94.6% complete, producing 94.5 MMT to date. That includes 54 MMT of wheat off 97.9% of plan, 16.3 MMT of barley off 95.5% of plan, and 9.5 MMT of corn off 74.6% of the intended area. Winter plantings stand at 14.6 million hectares, or 89.4% of the originally intended area.

Russia exported 1.743 MMT of grains in the Nov 1-20 period, including 1.185 MMT of wheat, 411 TMT of corn and 121 TMT of barley. That brings their 2013/14 marketing year to date exports to 13.12 MMT, up 15% versus a year ago.

Ukraine meanwhile have exported 2.8 MMT of grains in the same Nov 1-20 period, and their year to date shipments are 12.8 MMT. They are really hammering corn exports at the moment.

IKAR said that Russia has sold 13.4 MMT of grains for export so far this year, out of an anticipated total of 20 MMT (versus 15.8 MMT in 2012/13). They said that local 12.5% milling wheat prices are up $4/tonne versus a week ago at $288/tonne FOB the Black Sea.

India's PEC tendered to sell 70 TMT of wheat out of the east coast port of Krishnapatnam for Dec 26 - Jan 31 shipment. Bangladesh picked up a lowest offer of $313.92/tonne C&F in it's wheat tender, down slightly on a best price of $314.60/tonne a week ago.

Jordan re-tendered for 100 TMT of wheat, having cancelled a similar tender a week ago.

US markets will be closed for Thanksgiving on Thursday, and will only trade a holiday-shortened session on Friday. Which is another way of saying don't expect this sideways pattern to be broken out of this week.

EU Rapemeal Prices

26/11/13 -- Rapemeal prices on the continent are mostly a little lower today, consolidating from recent gains in line with a mini correction in Chicago soymeal values overnight.

Latest guide prices for EU rapemeal today, basis FOB Lower Rhine in euros/metric tonne, with change from previous trading session:


Chicago Soybeans Hit Fresh 2-Month Hghs

25/11/13 -- Soycomplex: Beans rallied to fresh 2-month highs on the old chestnut that is strong Chinese demand. There's talk of Chinese crushers having sold good volumes of forward soybean meal of late. The theory being that a healthy forward book might see demand for US beans remain strong into the new year, as crush margins stay profitable for a longer period of time. Weekly export inspections were something of a two-edged sword. Pretty strong at 66.93 million bushels, but below the 80 million plus levels that we've see for the past few weeks. The USDA reported 120 TMT of soybeans sold to unknown for 2014/15 delivery. Ag Rural said that Brazilian soybean planting was 79% complete on a national basis, with the leading producing state of Mato Grosso 96% done. Good and widespread rains are in the forecast for them, Argentina is a bit drier however. Chinese and South American weather demand holds the key to where this market goes from here. Early beans could be getting harvested in six weeks in parts of Brazil and unlike this year the old crop supply line hasn't been completely stripped bare. Bean-starved Brazilian crushers were eager to take all the early new crop beans that came onto the market back in January and the early part of February you will recall. Things may not be quite so tight this time round. Supply disruptions seem inevitable once the market is hit with a deluge of new crop beans come Mar/Apr/May, just as they were this year, in my opinion - despite Brazilian assurances to the contrary - so front end premiums (and probably large ones) look pretty likely come the northern hemisphere spring. The USDA didn't report on soybean harvest progress in their weekly report, so I guess we can assume that that is more or less over. Jan 14 Soybeans closed at $13.29 1/4, up 9 3/4 cents; Mar 14 Soybeans closed at $13.14 3/4, up 8 3/4 cents; Dec 13 Soybean Meal closed at $437.20, up $9.40; Dec 13 Soybean Oil closed at 40.66, down 50 points.

Corn: The corn market finished around a couple of cents higher, but generally extending the recent narrow sideways trade. The daily trading range was less than 5 cents. Weekly export inspections came in at a decent 30.24 million bushels, up at the top end of trade expectations and about the same as last week. The USDA reported the 2013 US corn harvest at 95% done, up 4 points from a week ago and about what the market expected. Northern states like Wisconsin (82% complete), Michigan (84%) and North Dakota (86%) are the least advanced. It may be a struggle to get the last of the crop in. "Winter has arrived early in the Great Plains and Upper Midwest where temperatures have been running 6-10 F below normal," said Martell Crop Projections. Tonight's crop progress report is expected to be the last for corn. Israel is tendering for up to 100,000 MT of option origin corn. Ukraine's corn harvest is winding down, and this seems to now be where they are concentrating their export push. Out of the 1.16 MMT of grains exported in the week through to Nov 24, over 80% was corn, according to APK Inform. The Russian corn harvest is also entering the final leg, and private estimates suggest that they may export 3.0-3.5 MMT of corn in 2013/14 versus less than 2.0 MMT last year and the USDA's current forecast of 2.5 MMT. Corn appears to have found it's level for the time being, supported by good margins in the ethanol business and the fact that it is such a large discount for wheat. The latter may encourage a bit more Asian buying too. Any further advancement in world wheat prices may allow for some modest appreciation in corn levels as long as usage holds up. South American production might be down a bit more than the market currently anticipates in the new year, which could also provide a bit of support. There is a very large volume of US corn to shift however, and the prospect of 2013/14 ending stocks in the region of 1.9-2.0 billion bushels is hardly bullish. Dec 13 Corn closed at $4.24 3/4, up 2 1/2 cents; Mar 14 Corn closed at $4.31 1/4, up 2 cents.

Wheat: Wheat finished around 1-3 cents higher, amidst talk of lower production prospects in Australia and Argentina. Both countries are mid-harvest, yet production estimates still vary quite widely. EU wheat prices are clawing their way higher as supplies from the cheaper FSU countries dwindle following their usual early season aggressive market strategy. Competition is still out there though, with India seemingly ready to release significant volumes of it's wheat surplus onto the market prior to the start of it's 2014 harvest in March/April. Iraq bought 200 TMT of Australian and Canadian wheat in it's tender. The interim deal struck with Iran over its nuclear program immediately met with reports of private Iranian buyers being back in the market to buy 300-500 TMT of milling wheat after a two year enforced absence. The USDA reported winter wheat crop conditions in the good/excellent category down one point on last week at 62%, although much better than only 33% a year ago. Idaho, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Washington all have at least 75% of their winter wheat rated as good/excellent. Wheat in Texas is in the worst shape at 28% poor/very poor. Weekly export inspections of 12.597 million bushels weren't great, and down versus 18.113 million the previous week. Low world corn prices are what's holding wheat back, and we probably need to see a rally in that market for wheat to move much higher than where it is now. Both US and EU wheat are heading into winter in generally very good shape, certainly in far better condition than a year ago. There are some concerns over the FSU though. Planting has been late, so maturity is retarded, some crops never got planted at all, and there's some talk of a lack of snow cover possibly being an issue when the Russian winter arrives. Very early ballpark guesses for Russian wheat output in 2014 are around 47-48 MMT. Dec 13 CBOT Wheat closed at $6.52 1/2, up 3 cents; Dec 13 KCBT Wheat closed at $7.03 1/2, up 1 3/4 cents; Dec 13 MGEX Wheat closed at $7.00 3/4, up 1 1/2 cents.

EU Wheat Remains Rangebound

25/11/13 -- EU grains closed mixed, but mostly a little firmer, with Jan 14 London wheat ending up GBP0.40tonne at GBP164.90/tonne, Jan 14 Paris wheat finishing EUR0.75/tonne firmer at EUR207.25/tonne, Jan 14 Paris corn EUR0.25/tonne weaker at EUR176.25/tonne, whilst Feb 14 Paris rapeseed slid EUR2.00/tonne to close at EUR376.00/tonne.

Fresh news is extremely thin on the ground. We're in require some much-needed direction in this market. London wheat hadn't closed outside the incredibly tight range of GBP163-165/tonne on the front month for the past 20 sessions prior to tonight's close, whilst Paris wheat hasn't finished outside the EUR200-208/tonne range since Oct 17.

There are hopes that the weekend interim deal on Iran's nuclear program will increase US wheat exports to the Middle Eastern country, even if it sees crude oil prices move lower.

European wheat exports continue at a pace. Germany shipped 3.6 MMT of grain abroad during the first three months of the season (Jul/Sep), up 44% on a year ago. Wheat accounted for 2.0 MMT of that total, up nearly 54%, and barley 865 TMT, up almost 173% compared with the same period in 2012.

Competition for wheat from Ukraine corn in particular however remains stiff. They exported 1.16 MMT of grains in the week to Nov 24, up almost 15% on the week prior. Most of that was corn, up 22.8% at 969.5 TMT - they've now exported a record volume of corn this month already.

The Ukraine Ministry said that the country had exported 12.8 MMT of grains in the Jul 1-Nov 22 period, a 15.8% rise on a year ago. That included 5.9 MMT of wheat, 1.95 MMT of barley and almost 5 MMT of corn. Exports of the latter are really accelerating as their record 2013 corn harvest comes to a close.

Out of the 7.73 million hectares of planted winter grains, 7.5 million has now emerged and 91% is in good/satisfactory condition, added the Ukraine Ministry.

Bangladesh is tendering to import 50,000 tonnes of wheat. Taiwan is tendering to buy 39,600 tonnes of US wheat and India issued a tender overnight to sell 70,000 tones of wheat.

We may see some short-covering in CBOT wheat this week, with funds sitting on a sizable short position and the markets closed for Thanksgiving on Thursday and only trading a shortened session on Friday.

Talk of weather-reduced wheat production in Australia and Argentina is also keeping the market nervous.

Closer to home, on the whole things aren't too bad. "Significant parts of western and central Europe faced overly wet conditions, mainly during the month of October. These conditions caused difficulties in some locations, but overall did not seriously hamper the sowing of winter crops. The warm temperatures and the normal precipitation levels were beneficial to crop emergence and early establishment during the second half of October and the first two weeks of November across most of Europe," said the EU Commission's MARS unit.

"Winter wheat experienced some sowing delays in France, but these were compensated for by rapid early development and conditions were particularly favourable for sowing in eastern Europe and the southern Mediterranean region," they added.

Chicago Soybeans Hit Near 2-Month High On Strong Demand

22/11/13 -- Soycomplex: Beans raced to their best levels since late September on strong demand from China, and domestically within the US, although anything above $13/bushel does seem to generate producer selling. The USDA announced 115 TMT of US soybeans sold to China for 2013/14 delivery under the daily reporting system. Following Thursday's strong export sales of almost 1.4 MMT, cumulative soybean sales stand at 90% of the USDA forecast for current 2013/14 (current) marketing year. Talk that many of these sales will ultimately end up being cancelled, or switched to South America, remains to be proven true. For now, the shipment program of in excess of 2 MMT/week leaving the US, mostly for China, is supportive. The Chinese Ministry of Agriculture estimated Nov soybean imports at 6.17 MMT, most of which will likely come from the US. Palm oil hit a 14-month high this week after the Indonesian Palm Oil Association said that Indonesia and Malaysia could see yields down 15-20% this year. The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange estimated Argentine soybean planting at 37.3% complete, up from 21.8% a week ago and versus 36.6% a year ago. They estimated the Argentine soybean area at 20.2 million hectares, unchanged from their previous estimate. The Argentine government's crop report, due to be released Thursday, has been delayed to an hitherto unspecified date. Jan 14 Soybeans closed at $13.19 1/2, up 28 cents; Mar 14 Soybeans closed at $13.06, up 26 1/4 cents; Dec 13 Soybean Meal closed at $427.80, up $16.80; Dec 13 Soybean Oil closed at 41.16, down 38 points.

Corn: The corn market closed virtually unchanged on the day and for the week, as the market continues to move sideways. Corn is cheap relative to wheat, there's no doubt about that, the problem is that there's just so much of it that it's difficult to see an awful lot of upside just at the moment. The USDA will report on harvest progress on Monday night, with corn 91% done as of last week that figure should be around 95-96% this time round as they wind down harvesting an anticipated record 355 MMT crop. The Ukraine corn harvest is 88% complete, and they've already brought in a record 26.6 MMT of corn. The Russian harvest is 70.9% done, and they too have already harvested a record volume of corn - 9.1 MMT. The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange said that Argentine corn planting is 42.7% complete versus 45% this time last year. They estimated the Argentine 2013/14 corn area at 3.46 million hectares, unchanged from their previous estimate. The French corn harvest is well behind last year's pace of 95% complete at only 67% done. Harvesting in Eastern Europe is more or less over. The corn market is oversold, with funds sitting on a net short position in excess of 146k contracts, so it is therefore vulnerable to a corrective bounce. It's difficult to see what might generate that change in sentiment however. Dec 13 Corn closed at $4.22 1/4, down 3/4 cent; Mar 14 Corn closed at $4.29 1/4, down 1/4 cent.

Wheat: Wheat closed flat to 7 cents firmer on the day. Strong demand from Brazil is supportive for US wheat. Conab pegged Brazil's October wheat imports at 723 TMT, of which 544 TMT came from the US. That takes their Jan/Oct 2013 wheat imports to just shy of 6 MMT, up from 5.65 MMT a year previously. They've imported 2.5 MMT from Argentina in 2013, versus 4.5 MMT in 2012. Their wheat imports from the US have sky-rocketed to match those from Argentina this year, versus only 54 TMT in 2012. The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange estimated the Argentine wheat harvest at 13.1% complete versus 6.9% a week ago and 18.9% a year ago. They estimated the Argentine wheat crop at 10.35 MMT, unchanged from previous estimate and far higher than the Rosario Exchange's 9.1 MMT from a few days ago. The Bangladesh government said as of Nov 18th it's wheat stocks were 372 TMT, up 39% from a year ago. They're likely to continue to cover their requirements in from India. The Food ministry in India announced that they would release another 210 TMT of wheat for export on December 12th. Managed money increased its net short in CBOT wheat by 8k lots on the week through to Tuesday, to just over 55k contracts. US wheat is "priced to sell" on a FOB basis, but has been missing out into North Africa and the Middle East due to freight considerations. Corn at around $4.20-4.25/bushel limits upside. Dec 13 CBOT Wheat closed at $6.49 1/2, up 3/4 cent; Dec 13 KCBT Wheat closed at $7.01 3/4, up 7 cents; Dec 13 MGEX Wheat closed at $6.99 1/4, up 3 cents.

EU Grains Little Changed On The Day Or For The Week

22/11/13 -- EU grains closed narrowly mixed, strong exports and a sharp drop-off in the pace of French winter wheat plantings are supporting the market. A record US, Ukraine and Russian corn crop is seen as a bearish influence however.

The session ended with expiring Nov 13 London wheat unchanged at GBP164.25/tonne, Jan 14 London wheat up GBP0.25/tonne at GBP164.50/tonne, Jan 14 Paris wheat EUR0.25/tonne weaker at EUR206.50/tonne, Jan 14 Paris corn down EUR1.00/tonne at EUR176.50/tonne and Feb 14 Paris rapeseed down EUR1.00/tonne at EUR378.00/tonne.

For the week Jan 14 London wheat was down GBP0.50/tonne, Jan 14 Paris wheat rose EUR2.00/tonne, Jan 14 Paris corn gained EUR2.50/tonne and Feb 14 Paris rapeseed fell EUR0.50/tonne.

FranceAgriMer said that winter wheat plantings there were 88% done as of Nov 18, up only 4 percentage points on the week, and now lagging last year's pace of 92% complete. Good/very good crop conditions fell from 87% last week to 84% this time round. Winter barley plantings only moved from 97% done last week to 98% complete (versus 99% a year ago at this time), with good/very good falling from 85% to 81%. Meanwhile the French corn crop is only 67% harvested, up from 58% a week previously, but far behind the 95% progress that was evident 12 months ago.

At least crop maturity is good. FranceAgriMer said that 26% of the planted winter wheat crop is at the tillering stage, up from 18% a week ago and versus only 8% this time in 2012. Winter barley advanced from 36% tillering to 47% as of Nov 18, and far better than only 17% this time last year.

German winter plantings are said to be complete, as too are those in Poland and the Czech Republic.

The Russian grain harvest now stands at 94 MMT off 94.3% of the planned area. Wheat accounts for 54 MMT of that (off 97.9%), barley 16.3 MMT (95.4%) and corn 9.1 MMT (70.9%). Winter grains have been planted on 14.6 million hectares versus 15.8 million this time last year. That's 89.3% of the originally intended area.

Ukraine's winter grains planting is said to be over at 7.73 million hectares, compared to the original target of 8.2 million. Their 2013 harvest is now past 60 MMT (a record) and is 96% complete. Corn harvesting is ongoing at 88% complete, producing a crop of 26.6 MMT so far. That total is already an all time high, and they are also expected to bring in a record 10.6 MMT sunflower crop this year, according to the Ag Ministry.

Brussels issued 580 TMT of soft wheat export licences this week, taking the 2013/14 marketing year to date total to 10.6 MMT thus far, versus only 6.8 MMT this time a year ago.

Tunisia are tendering for 109 TMT of optional origin durum wheat for Dec/Jan shipment. Morocco have said that they are to waive the existing import tariff on wheat, which could pave the way for more buying, particularly from France.

The supply and demand side of the coin for wheat within the EU seems fairly well balanced at the moment. Lack of competition from the FSU should continue to provide support across the winter. Competition does however exist from corn, both within the EU, and from the FSU and further afield, which should cap upside potential.