Corn and soybean prices shift lower
Afternoon report: Wheat prices mixed but mostly higher in Tuesday’s session.
Grain prices were mixed but mostly lower as traders squared positions ahead of the next World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates (WASDE) report from USDA, which the agency will release Wednesday morning. Corn prices were relatively spared after easing slightly lower today, while soybeans suffered a double-digit setback. Spring wheat prices retreated around 1% lower, while winter wheat prices made modest inroads after a somewhat choppy session.
Nearly all of the central U.S. will receive at least some measurable moisture between Wednesday and Saturday, per the latest 72-hour cumulative precipitation map from NOAA. The Mid-South is set to gather the most total rainfall during this time. NOAA’s new 8-to-14-day outlook predicts more seasonally wet weather for much of the Corn Belt between March 14 and March 20, meantime, with widespread colder-than-normal conditions also likely next week.
On Wall St., the Dow tumbled 538 points lower in afternoon trading to 32,892 on the likelihood that the Federal Reserve could continue its aggressive interest rate policy to combat stubbornly high inflation. Energy futures also saw significant cuts today. Crude oil dropped nearly 3.5% to $77 per barrel this afternoon. Diesel and gasoline were also down more than 3%. The U.S. Dollar firmed substantially.
On Monday, commodity funds were net buyers of soybeans (+5,000) and soymeal (+7,000) contracts but were net sellers of corn (-2,000) soyoil (-3,500) and CBOT wheat (-4,500).
Corn prices faded slightly lower on Tuesday amid some light technical selling as traders prepare for Wednesday morning’s WASDE report. Spillover weakness from soybeans also applied some downward pressure today. March futures eased half a penny lower to $6.44, with May futures down 2 cents to $6.35.
Corn basis bids were steady to firm across the central U.S. on Tuesday after improving 1 to 5 cents at two Midwestern ethanol plants and moving 2 cents higher at an Ohio elevator today.
The U.S. is requesting formal trade talks with Mexico over its plans to limit imports of genetically modified corn, which could be implemented as soon as 2024. As much as $5 billion in annual exports are at risk over the potential ban. “Mexico's policies threaten to disrupt billions of dollars in agricultural trade and they will stifle the innovation that is necessary to tackle the climate crisis and food security challenges if left unaddressed,” according to a statement from U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai. “We hope these consultations will be productive as we continue to work with Mexico to address these issues.”
Per the latest data from the European Commission, out earlier today, EU 2022/23 corn imports are up significantly year-over-year, with 258.3 million bushels through March 5. Ukraine, Brazil, Canada, Serbia and Russia were the top five suppliers.
In Brazil, corn ethanol production is expected to jump nearly 37% higher in 2023/24 to 158.5 billion gallons, according to the country’s National Corn Ethanol Union. That’s an exponential increase since 2017/18, when production totaled 137.4 million gallons, according to Unem’s chief executive, Guilherme Nolasco. “Even with all the adversities faced by effects such as the pandemic, reduced economic activity, tax policies and the electoral process, we should close the next crop with growth of 1,053% compared to 2017,” he noted.
Discussions are ongoing between Ukrainian officials and other key parties in hopes to extend a deal that allows for safe passage for shipping vessels in the Black Sea, which is otherwise set to expire on March 18. “The situation with negotiations is rather complicated. Now a lot depends not on us but on the partners,” a source familiar with the matter informed Reuters on the condition of anonymity. Russia indicated it will agree to an extension as long as its own agricultural interests are also given consideration. Ukraine, a significant exporter of corn, wheat and other commodities, has seen its grain exports down nearly 27% year-over-year so far during the 2022/23 marketing year.
Preliminary volume estimates were for 194,152 contracts, which was slightly below Monday’s final count of 201,658.
Soybean prices suffered a double-digit setback following a round of technical selling on Tuesday as a record-breaking harvest in Brazil continues to move forward. March futures dropped 15.75 cents to $15.2525, with May futures down 12.75 cents to $15.1625.
The rest of the soy complex also slumped lower today. Soymeal futures closed with losses of around 1.25%, while soyoil futures tumbled nearly 3% lower.
Soybean basis bids were steady to mixed across the central U.S. on Tuesday after trending as much as 5 cents higher at an Indiana processor and as much as 3 cents lower at a different Indiana processor today.
China imported more than 594 million bushels of soybeans in January and February as the country seeks to boost local supplies to guard against the relatively late harvest commencing in Brazil. That’s a year-over-year increase of 16.1% so far. China’s meat demand is likely to increase this year, which should accelerate soymeal sales. China is by far the world’s top soybean importer.
European Union soybean imports during the 2022/23 marketing year have reached 274.8 million bushels through March 5, which is moderately trailing last year’s pace so far. EU soymeal imports are also down year-over-year, with 10.53 million metric tons during the same period.
Preliminary volume estimates were for 163,004 contracts, tracking moderately below Monday’s final count of 216,703.
Wheat prices were mixed after some uneven technical maneuvering on Tuesday. Winter wheat prices moved modestly higher, while spring wheat prices eroded moderately lower. May Chicago SRW futures picked up 1.75 cents to $6.97, May Kansas City HRW futures added 2 cents to $7.9975, and May MGEX spring wheat futures faded 10.5 cents lower to $8.5225.
European Union soft wheat exports during the 2022/23 marketing year are up 8% from year-ago totals, with 772.4 million bushels through March 5. Morocco, Algeria, Nigeria, Egypt and China were the top five buyers. In contrast, EU barley exports are trending 30% lower year-over-year, with 186.5 million bushels during the same period.
Russian consultancy Sovecon made fractional cuts to its forecast for 2022/23 wheat exports, which is now at 1.620 billion bushels. Russia is the world’s No. 1 wheat exporter.
Japan issued a regular tender to purchase 3.0 million bushels of food-quality wheat from the United States in Canada that closes on Thursday. Of the total, 63% is expected to be sourced from the U.S. The grain is for shipment starting in late April.
Jordan purchased 2.2 million bushels of hard milling wheat from optional origins in an international tender that closed earlier today. The grain is for shipment during the first half of August.
Tunisia issued an international tender to purchase 3.7 million bushels of durum wheat from optional origins that closes on Wednesday. The grain is for shipment between April 1 and May 15, depending on where it is sourced.
Preliminary volume estimates were for 76,733 CBOT contracts, inching slightly ahead of Monday’s final count of 75,062.
Ben Potter | Mar 07, 2023