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Grains get pinched by bearish signals

There’s plenty of holiday cheer in the air as Christmas draws near, but that optimism didn’t make it to the grain markets on Thursday after bearish sentiment kicked most commodity prices lower. Soybeans incurred double-digit losses, while corn prices eased 0.3% lower. Wheat prices were mostly lower, but Kansas City HRW contracts bucked the overall trend after testing modest gains of around 0.25%.

As Winter Storm Elliot makes its way across the Midwest, most areas east of the Mississippi River will see at least some rain or snow between Friday and Monday, per the latest 72-hour cumulative precipitation map from NOAA. If you’re wondering what areas are most likely to experience a White Christmas this year, The Weather Channel has served up its 2022 prediction.

On Wall St., the Dow dropped 630 points to 32,746 amid a recent selloff, anchored by losses in the tech sector along with lingering concerns that the U.S. is heading toward a recession. Energy futures were also in the red, with crude oil down more than 1% this afternoon to $77 per barrel. Diesel and gasoline each dropped around 0.5%. Volatile natural gas prices tumbled more than 5% lower. The U.S. Dollar firmed moderately.

On Wednesday, commodity funds were net buyers of all major grain contracts, including corn (+5,000), soybeans (+1,000), soymeal (+1,000), soyoil (+1,000) and CBOT wheat (+10,000).


Corn prices eased lower on Thursday after disappointing export sales data from USDA and spillover weakness from other commodities triggered a round of technical selling today. March and May futures each dropped 2.25 cents to close at $6.60 and $6.5950, respectively.

Corn basis bids were mostly steady across the central U.S. on Thursday but did trend 5 cents lower at a Nebraska processor and 1 to 5 cents higher across two other Midwestern locations today.

Corn exports found 25.1 million bushels in old crop sales for the week ending December 15. Analyst estimates missed the mark, with trade guesses ranging between 26.5 million and 37.4 million bushels. Cumulative totals for the 2022/23 marketing year remain moderately below last year’s pace, with 323.7 million bushels since the beginning of September.

Corn export inspections were solid, with 37.7 million bushels. China, Mexico, Japan, Colombia and Nicaragua were the top five destinations.

Macro market signals look bearish, but tight supplies and potential short crops could keep prices firm, according to Bill Biedermann, hedging strategist with “With U.S. corn inventories down to a 31-day supply, any South American production number below 168 mmt could have significant impact on the U.S. market as world traders switch their buy orders to U.S. origin when our supplies are already tight,” he notes. Biedermann serves up additional analysis in today’s Ag Marketing IQ blog – click here to learn more.

The European Commission trimmed its estimates for 2022/23 EU corn production to 2.051 billion bushels after suffering through an abundance of hot, dry weather. That makes this year’s crop the smallest in more than a decade, and its sharply below initial estimates of 2.823 billion bushels made back in June.

Live events are back! If you missed the Farm Progress Show and/or Husker Harvest Days this summer, you could still make plans to attend the 2023 Farm Futures Business Summit, coming up in just a few short weeks. Click here to catch a glimpse of what’s in store and learn how to register.

Preliminary volume estimates were for 106,774 contracts, which was noticeably below Wednesday’s final count of 188,406.


Soybean prices were on their heels on Thursday after yield-friendly rains in South America spurred some technical selling that pushed prices around 0.75% lower today. January futures dropped 13.25 cents to $14.6775, with March futures down 11.75 cents to $14.7275.

Soybean basis bids dropped 5 to 10 cents at two Midwestern processors and picked up a penny at an Ohio elevator while holding steady elsewhere across the central U.S. on Thursday.

Soybean exports found 27.0 million bushels on old crop sales, plus another 5.1 million bushels of new crop sales, for a total tally of 32.1 million bushels. That was toward the lower end of analyst estimates, which ranged between 29.4 million and 51.4 million bushels. Cumulative totals for the 2022/23 marketing year are trending around 8.2% below last year’s pace, with 916.0 million bushels.

Soybean export inspections were more robust, with 73.1 million bushels. China, Mexico, Spain, Japan and Israel were the top five destinations.

It’s been a weird, wild year, to say the least. David Kohl takes a look back at highlights from 2022 and explains why 2023 “will be the pivotal year that trade moves from globalization to regionalization” – and how that could affect your bottom line – in his latest Road Warrior blog. Click here to learn more.

Preliminary volume estimates were for 168,122 contracts, easing slightly below Wednesday’s final count of 172,063.


Wheat prices were mixed but mostly lower following an uneven round of technical maneuvering on Thursday. March Chicago SRW futures fell 6.75 cents to $7.61, and March MGEX spring wheat futures dropped 6 cents to $9.2175. Kansas City HRW contracts managed to move modestly higher, in contrast, with March futures picking up 1.25 cents to $8.6525.

Wheat export sales reached 12.3 million bushels last week. That was toward the lower end of trade estimates, which ranged between 7.3 million and 20.2 million bushels. Cumulative totals for the 2022/23 marketing year are slightly below last year’s pace so far, with 376.4 million bushels.

Wheat export shipments were lackluster, with 8.6 million bushels. South Korea, Japan, Mexico, Honduras and Trinidad and Tobago were the top five destinations.

The European Commission slightly lowered its estimates for 2022/23 EU soft wheat production. The group said its projection for EU soft wheat exports this marketing year were steady, at 1.249 billion bushels.

As expected, Japan purchased 5.3 million bushels of food-quality wheat from the United States and Canada in a regular tender that closed earlier today. Of the total, 49% was sourced from the U.S. The grain is for shipment beginning in mid-January.

Iraq purchased 5.5 million bushels of wheat in a tender that recently closed. Two-thirds of that purchase will be sourced from Australia, with the remainder coming from the United States.

Preliminary volume estimates were for 49,163 CBOT contracts, trending moderately below Wednesday’s final count of 77,175.

Ben Potter

Dec 22, 2022



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