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Archive for June, 2018

Market Report

Wednesday June 27th, 2018

July corn closed unchanged at $3.52 ½ and December closed unchanged at $3.73 ¼. July soybeans closed up ¼ at $8.67 ½ and November closed up 1 ½ at $8.89. July wheat closed up 10 at $4.79 ½ and September closed up 5 ½ at $4.88 ½. Crude oil closed up $1.98 at $71.26.

The corn market remained quite choppy as traders sew up positions in front of important month end reports and deliveries. Corn spent most of the day on the “plus” side of the ledger, but once again had to endure a mid-day wave of selling that briefly took the market lower on the day. Futures would end near unchanged as July continues to hug the $3.50 level mighty tight. Managed Money traders were viewed small sellers today.

There was not a lot “new” to discuss today. Rains remain around the Midwest, including some very beneficial precip in dry southern Illinois. The next two weeks are expected to trend dryer and warmers across the Midwest, which is a change worth noting, but there is more than enough soil moisture around to support continued favorable growing conditions.  There will be some rains around this weekend to “top off” the central Midwest.  No story here, yet. The only major world weather concern is portions of EU/FSU. Forecasts from Ukraine’s weather bureau hint at some damage to corn yield potential there. They see a 26.8 mmt harvest coming, which is technically better than last year, but is well below current USDA estimates of 30 mmt for the crop.  Brazil is also coming to terms with a reduced second crop harvest, though how much damage was done there is still up for debate. Harvest is well underway there and is over half done in Argentina’s (first/only) crop.

The soybean market struggled to hold strength today but still managed a very modest reversal higher. When the rally in meal gave up the beans also lost their early leader and momentum.  Today’s price action demonstrated how difficult it is and is going to be to sustain rallies in the current environment where crop conditions, trade uncertainty and the anticipated bear report on Friday limit upside enthusiasm. It was a quiet day of trade with volumes trending down each day and that likely will continue as we head into Friday’s early Independence Day fireworks show with first notice, end of quarter fund flows and of course, the stocks and acreage reports. July weather forecasts are hinting a hot and drier pattern and we have an important trade deal coming up on July 6th.

The crop report on Friday is expected to show around 89.7 million bean acres, up 700,000 from the March estimate but down 90.1 million last year. Stocks are estimated at 260 MB larger than this time last year a new record 1.225 for June 1st. The weather to this point in the growing season has been supportive of excellent crop conditions.  We are now seeing some issues developing where parts of the Midwest have been deluged with too much rain and this is creating some disease and scraggly looking soybeans as they sit with ‘wet feet’.  SE SD, N IA and E NE represent the epicenter of this issue and are set for additional rains through this weekend before the drier and welcomed bias takes over for early July.

For a second consecutive day the wheat complex finished a little better. Unlike Tuesday when the rally was unable to hold into the day session, today’s price action maintained those gains and traded a little better throughout the day. After a two-week $.73 break in Chicago Sept wheat it was nice to see a positive finish to the day. Not saying that the markets have turned any corners, but traders are still hopeful for positive data to come out of the crop report Friday. Looking ahead to the rest of the week, the markets will have plenty of data to look at and digest. Export sales is first up Thursday morning. Last week’s sales came in at the high end of expectations at 462 MT, and with prices in retreat mode, tomorrow might even be better than last week. We will eventually start to need good weeks as sales are already behind last year’s pace 183 mil bu vs 277 mil bu last year. Look for sales tomorrow to come in between 400 and 500 TMT.

Anna Kaverman

Market Report

Tuesday June 26th, 2018

July corn closed up 2 at $3.52 ½ and December closed up 1 ¾ at $3.73 ¼. July soybeans closed down 7 ¼ at $8.67 ¼ and November closed down 8 at $8.87 ½. July wheat closed down 7 ¼ at $4.69 ½ and September closed down 7 ½ at $4.83. Crude oil closed up $2.24 at $69.28.

Corn trade was extremely two-sided today, going between small intraday gains and losses. After an eye-opening plunge mid-day, futures were able to battle back, ultimately finishing with $.01-$.02 gains. Managed Money funds were believed net buyers of 5,000 corn, and when factoring in recent CFTC data, could still be net long a small quantity. Option traders believe the CFTC is “behind” in their reporting and that funds are actually large net shorts at this point.

Fund positioning, particularly within “trade war” discourse, continues to have an outsized impact on trade. Today, the headlines were mercifully more muted, if not somewhat conciliatory. Pres. Trump’s comments mid-day appeared to soothe nerves a little, as he hinted that recent dialogue with China on trade was going well. On the ground, export trade in corn continues to be quite brisk. Korea continues to be an active buyer on the break, taking in another batch of three new crop cargos today. Old crop shipments should continue to take 50-60 million bushels per week into the end of the 17/18 marketing year. Midwestern crops continue to enjoy a mostly favorable start to the growing season. Temps warm up and the rain clouds go away toward the end of this week, but most areas have plenty of subsoil moisture to carry through for a moment. Southern Corn Belt areas will generally fare worst. EU/FSU conditions remain more mixed.

The EPA ‘made it official’ today, publishing RFS mandate targets for 2019 today. The results were almost exactly in-line with the “leak” from last Friday. Corn ethanol mandates were unsurprisingly left unchanged at 15 billion gallons. There was a large boost to “advanced biofuels” this year and “biodiesel” in 2020. As expected, the EPA did not follow through with plans to “reallocate” blending obligations lost to the flurry of small refiner exemptions released this year.

The soybean market established a new low close as we make a deeper test of last week’s spike trade. Weather continues to favor high yield potential although it is very early and yields are determined in Aug/Sept and we also have areas where crops are struggling with some disease issues due to ‘wet feet’ notably in the NC, IA, Southern MN and Eastern NE region with more showing in the near term forecasts.

The feature trade today was board crush margins surging into new highs with nearby crush up 9 to $1.85/bushel and new crop up 5 to $1.70/bushel. What this means is that our record crush is likely to continue through the end of the year making lots of meal and oil with the demand base for meal later this summer/fall expected to heat up. Oil demand gets a boost too, but not until 2019. The official EPA 2019 biofuels mandate of 19.88 billion gallons under the Renewable Fuel Standard which was initially reported last week and is an increase from 19.29 billion gallons this year. 2019 soybean oil usage should increase by around 150 mln lbs with the USDA 18/19 carryout currently projected at 2.176 bln lbs.

Trade uncertainty remains a black cloud over this market and nobody knows how/when this will be resolved. The USDA reportedly will have a plan ready for farmers by July 7th to help compensate for the tariff impact with July 6th being the date those tariffs could be enacted. With that said, you could have a deal made at any time with China that includes a significant new crop sales commitment that elicit a sharp upside price response or you can have tariffs delayed to buy more time for talks. In seeking alternative sources for feedstocks, China’s Finance Ministry announced plans, which go into effect July 1, to lift import tariffs on soybeans, soymeal and rapeseed meal imports from five Asian nations.

So far, price action this week has been very similar to what we saw last week in that we have seen a hard day down on both Monday and Tuesday. In fact, the reasons behind such a defensive start to each week has been similar as well. Funds liquidating their long position. Poor economic news (US-China tariff talk) and a negative bias as World wheat values fall have also played influential roles in price action. After being over-priced last week and missing out on business, Russian wheat offers this week were just as aggressive as some thought they might be. The two lowest Russian offers in the GASC tender overnight were $4.35 cheaper than last week.

Looking ahead to the rest of the week, the markets will have plenty of data to look at and digest. Export sales is first up Thursday morning, and with prices in retreat mode, it might be one of our better weeks in a while. Stats Can planting intentions is Friday morning before the USDA crop report. Two things to look for: A gap higher start and subsequent strong day. Or, after a weak start and move taking out the previous day’s low, a reversal that rallies trade above the previous day’s highs and settlement above that high (outside day higher close). Then we would need a higher close the following day to signal the liquidation phase is over.

The US Crop Report is Friday morning. For acreage, average expectations is for the report to show all wheat to come in somewhere around 47.0 MA vs 47.339 mil on March 29. Keep in mind, this is planted acreage, not harvested, and with many of the HRW wheat states (Texas, Oklahoma and to a lesser extent Kansas and Colorado) looking at an abandonment rate much higher than in year’s past, it will be the harvested data that will be more relevant. The question is, will the USDA adjust any harvested acreage estimates in this report, or will they wait until July? Of the planted acreage, look for winter wheat planted acres to come in around 32.50 mil vs 32.69 mil in late March, with most of the reduction coming in HRW. We had a big Spring wheat acreage number at the end of March, and remember, even though things are looking great now, there were delays to their planting season. Look for Spring wheat planted acres to come in somewhere closer towards 12.227 mil vs the USDA’s most recent estimate of 12.627 mil. Remember, this was the surprise of the report last year.

That brings us to quarterly stocks. Remember, last year it was this data that was the bearish aspect to the report, and it might very well be again. Average expectation for US wheat stocks as of June 1st is 1.091 BB vs the 1.494 bil we saw as of March 1. Do not be surprised if this number Friday is at the high end of expectations and closer towards 1.15 BB or even higher.

Anna Kaverman

Market Report

Monday June 25th, 2018

July corn closed down 6 ¾ at $3.50 ½ and December closed down 6 ½ at $3.71 ½. July soybeans closed down 20 at $8.74 ½ and November closed down 20 ¾ at $8.95 ½. July wheat closed down 14 ½ at $4.76 ¾ and September closed down 13 ¾ at $4.90 ½. Crude oil closed down $.59 at $67.04.

The commodity and financial world was a sea of red today, as another weekend without a meaningful trade deal promoted a “risk-off” attitude across the spectrum. Corn was able to stem a higher open Sunday night on “ridge” chatter for later this week, but the higher trade did not survive the first hour. July managed to just barely close above $3.50 support. Managed Money traders were viewed net sellers of about 15,000 contracts today, which would leave them with a small net long in the market.

Crop Progress report after the close offered a small surprise.  Corn national condition ratings slipped -1% in the Good-Excellent category to 77%; the trade was expecting “unchanged” to slightly better, given good rains in many locations. Poor-Very Poor ratings also upticked 1% to 5%. This still compares favorably to 67% G-E and 8% P-VP this time last year. 5% of the corn crop was seen silking (tasseling), which was in-line with normal. U.S. weather is expected to turn warmer and dryer later this week and into next. Rains over the past week or so have topped off subsoil moisture enough.

Soybean prices took it on the chin again Monday, down more than 2% again on U.S.-China trade tensions. July and August futures both fell 20 cents to land at $8.7450 and $8.80. Soybean export inspections totaled 18.9 million bushels last week, moderately behind the prior week’s total of 30.1 million bushels and landing on the low end of trade estimates, which ranged between 14 million and 29 million bushels. Three countries – Vietnam, the Netherlands and China – shared honors as the No. 1 destination for U.S. soybean inspections last week, with 2.8 million bushels each. Ahead of Monday afternoon’s USDA Crop Progress reports, analysts expect the agency to report that 73% of the U.S. soybean crop is in good-to-excellent condition, unchanged from the prior week. Private exporters reported to USDA the sale of 6.8 million bushels of soybeans for delivery to unknown destinations during the 2017/18 marketing year, which began September 1.

Another poor start to a week. Today was the seventh consecutive week the wheat markets have started the week lower and like many of them before this week, it resulted in double digit losses. Many of the same issues that have plagued the wheat complex continues to linger and were all influential to price action today. The trade war rhetoric between the US and China is not getting any better. Wheat conditions are said to be better than expected despite the recent rains that have delayed harvest. Russian wheat prices continue to fall, down another $5.00 week over week and below $200 for the first time since February. This week’s price action is sure to match the intensity of last week as we have first notice day for July futures, month end, quarter end and a crop report Friday. The report has the potential to give trade a shot at positive momentum, with the idea the USDA will lower harvested acreage estimates.

Overall expectations for winter wheat conditions week over week were for a slight decline. All classes saw some decline and they came in 2% lower at 37% G&E and 34% P&VP vs last week’s 39% G&E and 33 pct P&VP. HRW wheat conditions were unchanged at 20 pct G&E, but they easily could have been down one.

Anna Kaverman

Market Report

Friday June 22nd, 2018

July corn closed up ¼ at $3.57 ¼ and December closed down ¼ at $3.78. July soybeans closed up 14 at $8.94 ½ and November closed up 14 ¾ at $9.16 ¼.  July wheat closed down 4 at $4.91 ¼ and September closed 2 ½ at $5.04 ¼. Crude oil closed up $2.77 at $67.63.


Next week will be a big one for the grain markets.  The quarterly stocks report will come out along with the acreage report.  Most people are looking for additional acres to both beans and corn, but the big question is how many.  The answer is sure to have a big impact on futures prices. The Trump administration is looking into creatively using the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), a division of the USDA, to offer financial assistance to farmers if tariffs are implemented. The CCC can borrow up to $30 billion from the Treasury.


Tariff talks continue to be one of the biggest influences for the grain markets. The back and forth between the US and China continues with no softening or resolution in sight. US soybeans will be the main target of China if the tariffs are implemented July 6th.   That was very evident on Tuesday when an additional $200 billion in tariffs were threatened by President Trump.  This caused the bean market to lose nearly 65 cents in early trading as nervous participants were washed out of the market.  A recovery ensued and beans are only down a dime on the week. Due to the tariff war, China is not interested in buying US beans as the risk right now is too great. Brazilian premiums have skyrocketed as they are China’s leading supplier.  Soybean crop conditions continue to hold at record levels. The current level of 73% good/excellent is tied with 2016 as the all-time high for this week.  In 2106 soybeans had a record yield of 52 bpa.


The corn market has seen speculators exit the market is large numbers.  Over the past 4 weeks specs have sold 181,000 contracts of corn. Export sales were dismal for corn this week with old crop posting the 2nd lowest total of the marketing year at just 166,000 tons.  Up until this week, recent sales have been averaging around 900,000 tons. The EPA is proposing new biofuel mandates for 2019. The conventional biofuel portion allocated to ethanol will remain steady at 15 billion gallons.  The corn market managed to weather the trade war storm.  After plunging to new lows on Tuesday under $3.40, the market was able to claw back most of the losses.  On the week July futures were only off 4 cents.


Some unapproved GMO wheat has been discovered in Canada. Last week, Japan halted purchases of Canadian wheat.  Now South Korea has joined the ban.  These bans could push some more business to the US. The Ukrainian wheat crop should be in the 23-26 million ton range according to their ag minister. Last year’s harvest was 26.2 million and it was feared that the current crop could be much lower due to severe drought. The wheat harvest is off to a good start.  Harvest progress of 27% is ahead of the 5 year average of 19%. Most parts of Kansas were getting close to finishing up, unless the recent rains slow things up.


Cash cattle were trading in the $108-$109 range which is $2-$3 lower than last week.  Beef cutout values are also down this week with choice boxes falling from $221 down to $217. Packer margins continue to hold at very high levels close to $220/head. The cattle on feed report was bearish.  The placement number of 100% was well above estimate for 95.6%.  The June 1 cattle of feed total of 11.553 million head is the highest on record for June 1 since data started in 1996.

Anna Kaverman

Market Report

Thursday June 21st, 2018

July corn closed up 2 ¾ at $3.57 and December closed up 2 ½ at $3.78 ¼. July soybeans closed down 9 at $8.80 ½ and November closed down 9 at $9.01 ½.  July wheat closed up 7 at $4.95 ¼ and September closed 7 ½ at $5.06 ¾.  Crude oil closed down $.38 at $64.86.

The corn market was almost boring Thursday. The only excitement was a brief $.05 stab lower overnight. Steady/better was the theme during the day. Managed Money traders were net buyers of about 10,000 corn today. CFTC data tomorrow afternoon will be extremely helpful, given the massive move in the board and pending expiry of July options. Export sales this morning took a breather, dipping below 1 mmt in new sales for the first time since May 3rd. Old crop sales totaled just 165,900 metric tons, as cancellations of 584,700 metric tons to “unknown” (China??) bit into the total. Mexico and Japan were the largest buyers of record.

Weather remains somewhat bearish, though we were a little disappointed in some of the areas missed by rains overnight.  Northern Missouri and Western Illinois continue to go without.  Rains still in the five day maps are expected to greatly favor the Eastern Belt, which will be quite welcome in dry IN/OH, as well as even-drier Kansas. 6-10 & 8-14 day maps turn much hotter, but precip estimates lean wet over that timing as well.  On the world scene, Ukraine corn is expected to get a timely drink this coming week, though Russia stays dry?  South American harvest/maturation weather seen good. Argentina corn moved up to 51% harvested versus 45% average (and well behind normal).

While corn and wheat came up for some air, the soybean market couldn’t tag along and closed nine lower with another late push of selling. It was a much quieter trade than the first part of the week with volume in November beans less than half of what was traded on Tuesday’s high-volume spike trade. What does all that mean? Absolutely nothing other than the market is exhausted and has spent two days trading around after the blow off spike trade. The cloud of trade tariffs remains over the market and likely keeps a lid on rallies until a resolution which opens the floodgate on new crop purchases is reached. The wires this afternoon report the White House National Economic Council is considering high level talks with China before the tariff date on the 6th. The other potential game changer of course could be weather pattern shift but at this point the outlook remains benign.  Some concern over the heavy rains of late with reports of disease in some of these areas but there is nothing in the forecasts that raises any alarm bells with plenty of heat and moisture seen through early July that should continue overall favorable development. With that said, the models are now debating the setup of a ridge in early July and the consensus at this point is a lighter rainfall bias and warm temps where the SW of the corn belt would be most susceptible to crop stress.

Soybean weekly export sales totaled 530 mt of which 302 was old crop which was within expectations.  The old crop sales are -42% from last week, but up 48% 4-week average. Unknown cancelled 204 and China -66. Funds have continued to sell beans going from a net long peak of +156k in mid April to an estimated net short of around -85k as of today.

After a back and forth night that saw wheat prices finish higher across the board, trade was able to maintain most of those gains throughout the day. The entire wheat complex looks to be finally benefiting from some positive news. The first came on talk that the USDA was considering bringing back the CCC to support prices for farmers. If that were to happen, it would be supportive to wheat the most. That was followed by Agritel pegging the Russian wheat crop at 67.4 MMT. And we cannot take our eye off the US Dollar. This morning trade moved into new contract highs and a strong Dollar usually benefits wheat the most. News seems to run in cycles, and right now the wheat market is trying to build a positive one to end the week. The crop report next Friday has the potential to give trade additional positive momentum, with the idea that the USDA will lower harvested acreage estimates in several states. For now, look for buying on breaks. Export sales this morning came in at the high end of expectations at 462 MT. Total sales are now 183 MB vs 277 MB last year.

Anna Kaverman

Market Report

Wednesday June 20th, 2018

July corn closed up ½ at $3.54 ¼ and December closed up ¼ at $3.75 ¾. July soybeans closed up ½ at $8.89 ½ and November closed down ½ at $9.10 ½.  July wheat closed up 10 ½ at $4.88 ¼ and September closed up 9 ¾ at $4.99 ¼.  Crude oil closed up $.68 at $65.24.

The corn market Wednesday featured both near-thrills and near-spills, as we managed to lop the prior day’s $.20 range in half.  Futures would ultimately finish with fractional gains. Mid-day, the markets had a slippery feel, trading as much as $.06 lower.  Corn battled back to trade as much as $.03 higher shortly before the close. Managed Money traders were believed net sellers of about 5,000 corn today, which netted out could leave that class of trader net short the corn market for the first time since winter. Positive weather developments likely helped limit gains of the day in corn, while “Trade War” headlines tend to be greeted by macro selling. Welcome rains fell along some of the dryer areas of the southern Corn Belt overnight. Forecasts suggest more in store, with good rains seen for all but the extreme Northern Plains. World weather is also in a mostly “non-threatening” posture, with the exception of portions of Ukraine and Russia, which still trend dry. This could have a bearing on corn export availability out of that region next year which could favor US sellers. South Africa also about to start harvesting, with a smaller crop likely relative to the prior year’s bin-buster; 13 mmt vs. 16.8 prior.

The soybean market had a back and forth trade as we look for some stability after our extended break. Modest overnight strength melted away after the break following comments from Commerce Secretary Ross that implied the administration is likely to move forward with the threatened tariffs on China on July the 6th. Ross was quoted as saying that ‘Trump concluded we need more than just talk with China’ and also noted that we are ‘unlikely to succeed unless we make it painful for China’.  President himself Trump later provided a more optimistic slant saying that he expects to announce new trade deals with unspecified countries “rapidly,” with the recent market volatility and sharp losses in the Ag perhaps creating urgency to move negotiations forward. When the market ran some sell stops taking the board lower on the day, it would have been very easy for beans to fold, but instead we held and rallied back for a modest reversal in the front months despite an effort by some determined seller to wreck the settlement with some size hitting the market in the closing seconds. This display of resiliency is an important second step following yesterday’s spike trade in trying to create some confidence along with a bottom.

It was a back and forth day for the wheat complex today, but when all was said and done, it was the wheat complex that finished on top. Price action overnight was quietly higher, but after the European Commission announced this morning that they would begin implementing tariffs on $3.2 billion worth of US imported goods starting on Friday, it seemed to send a negative vibe to trade that washed away the overnight gains and sent trade lower. But the grain complex recovered on the talk of the USDA considering bringing back the CCC to support prices for farmers. If this were to happen, it would benefit wheat prices more than corn and beans. Maybe that is why wheat finished the day the strongest. The crop report next Friday has the potential to give trade additional positive momentum, with the idea that the USDA will lower harvested acreage estimates in several states. Finally seeing some positive news for wheat. For now, look for buying on breaks.

Anna Kaverman

Market Report

Monday June 18th, 2018

July corn closed down 5 ¼ at $3.56 and December closed down 5 ½ at $3.77 ¼. July soybeans closed up 3 at $9.08 ½ and November closed up 1 at $9.31 ½. July wheat closed down 9 ½ at $4.90 and September closed down 12 at $5.01 ½. Crude oil closed up $.84 at $65.69.

Corn maintained a defensive posture to start the week, with rains in the forecast, longs still suffering, and tariff talk on everyone’s lips. Managed Money were viewed net sellers of about 25,000 contracts today, and by reckoning could be close to “even” when including option deltas. Note, the most recent CFTC reports have established most of the selling in recent weeks as “new spec shorts” and not “long liquidation”.

Crop progress data after the close found a small uptick in US corn ratings.  Good-Excellent ratings improved 1% wk/wk to 78% nationally, which compares to just 67% last week. 4% was rated Poor-Very Poor unchanged from last week, but half of the year ago’s 8%. Notable state-by-state changes included additional slippage in Missouri (-8% G-E) and Texas (-7% G-E), though Iowa improved a whopping 3%, while the Dakotas were up +8% in North and +3% in South.  98% of the crop was emerged, with only Michigan and Pennsylvania significantly behind trend.  First silking report comes out next Monday.

The week ahead is expected to be a fairly good one for US corn growing weather. 5 day maps suggest widespread coverage for most of the Corn Belt.  Temps also cool off along with the stormier front.  6-10 & 8-14 day maps are hotter, but do not set off any alarm bells yet given some moisture still included.  China looks good, while Canada is trending a little dry. South American harvest/maturation forecast looks favorable. FSU/EU still not seeing consistently good weather, but the situation is not nearly as bad as several weeks back.

The soybean market reversed higher out of new lows led by the front months which briefly dipped below $9 after the break.  This is the first time front month soybeans traded below $9 since March of 2016. This afternoon’s crop progress report showed soybean conditions at 73% gte compared to 74% last week and 67% this week last year. Beans are 97% planted vs. 93% last week and 91% avg. For this date this leaves 2.669 MA left to plant which are primarily double crop behind wheat. Soybean emergence is 90% vs. 83% a week ago.

Weekly grain inspections came in stronger than expected with bean shipments at 818 mt vs. 500 mt estimated. This compares to 676 mt last week and just 292 mt this week a year ago. Year to date soybean shipments stand at 48.307 mmt vs. 51.929 mmt this time last year representing a 133 million bushel deficit to last year’s pace as we continue to narrow the gap to the USDA’s export projection of a 109 million bushel deficit. Non-Chinese export activity remains strong. There was a cargo to China off the PNW in the report. They had been shipping two/week of late, this week down to one. Logistical issues that originated with a trucker strike and have moved to freight rate dispute at Brazil’s ports continue to slow load outs which gives the US additional opportunity to pick up some trade. This issue takes on more urgency once Safrinha corn harvest begins and compete for storage space.

July 6th is the new target date for US-Chinese tariffs to be enacted. This can go one of three directions. 1)  Both sides come to the table and work out a deal. In this scenario the market reaction would be positive and likely prints a bottom in prices. 2) Tariffs are delayed to allow more time to negotiate and leaves the black cloud of uncertainty over the market. 3)  Tariffs are enacted and both sides see economic losses. In the case of number 3, Sec Ross stated that it is too early to detail what government assistance farmers would receive to offset their losses.

Another start to a week with not a lot of positive news around for the wheat complex, and another Monday that resulted in double digit losses. Today was the sixth consecutive week the wheat market started the week lower, and today it was the KC market that led the declines. As harvest moves along, talk of HRW wheat conditions being better than expected in some areas as well as protein levels being much higher than last year were a couple factors behind today’s poor price action. Russian wheat prices falling more than $3.00 week over week was also a big influence to today’s price action, and with Egypt in for wheat after the close, it won’t take long to see exactly how much they have fallen as we could compare prices to the GASC’s tender from a week ago. Crop progress this afternoon will only weigh on futures further as overall winter wheat conditions came in 1% better. HRW conditions improved the most, up two pct, while SRW wheat conditions fell around two%. Most of the decline in the SRW wheat conditions came from Missouri and Illinois.

After the close Egypt’s GASC announced they were in for wheat for Aug 1 to Aug 10. Their last purchase was just last week when they bought a total of 420 MT of wheat, of which 300 MT was Russian and 120 MT was Romanian. The average price paid was somewhere around $225.32, which was $9.63 cheaper than the avg price paid on May 15.

Anna Kaverman

Market Report

Thursday June 14th, 2018

July corn closed down 13 at $3.63 and December closed down 12 ½ at $3.84 ½. July soybeans closed down 8 ¾ at $9.27 ¼ and November closed down 8 ¾ at $9.50. July wheat closed down 15 at $5.01 ½ and September closed down 15 ½ at $5.17 ¼. Crude oil closed up $.217 at $66.69.

The bear returned with a vengeance, pushing the market lower overnight and kept the pressure on during the day. Futures would end right near the lows of the day, notching $.13 losses. The day’s low was within a $.01 of the July contract (lifetime) lows made back in January. Heading into Friday, the corn market is sporting another $.15 decline for the week, the third such down week in a row. Funds were viewed net sellers of at least 35,000 corn today, which will leave funds net long well under 100,000 combined futures and options for the first time since this winter.

Large spec capitulation remains the name of the game in corn.  A souring technical picture, ensuing margin calls, and a difficult-to-quantify “tariff war” story has the long racing for the exit. The trigger today is no doubt the looming Friday “deadline” imposed by the Trump administration on issuing new Chinese tariffs. Trade continue to be a little confused as to why corn is taking the brunt of this damage. While China could potentially be a massive future market for US corn, they have imported less than 1 million metric tons each of the past three years.

Make no mistake, though, early year conditions in corn have gotten off to a tremendous start. Beneficial rains fell overnight in most of Iowa, applying early pressure to the corn market. Much of the Midwest has favorable soil conditions today, but remain surprised the market is not putting some “risk premium” back in, given prospects for rather erratic rains over the next two weeks?  It gets pretty hot, too, this weekend, which will dry things down more quickly.  Rains advertised one-two weeks out (June 23-28) will be closely watched. Contrary to market price action, crops are not made just yet. On the world scene, despite some showers this week, Europe and the FSU are still trending a little too dry and could use a broader drink.  Argy corn harvest moved up to 45% complete.

It was corn’s turn in the “tariff barrel today”, as the bean complex managed to get off with just a light whacking. Beans extended the decline, pushing to new lows for the year in most actively-traded contracts. Meal finished $4 lower, while Oil actually closed higher, posting an encouraging bounce after trading to new lows of its own. Managed Money continues to aggressively liquidate length in meal and beans. The sea of bearishness continues to weigh on prices as favorable growing conditions, the absence of a weather threat, fund liquidation, tech sellers, panic sellers and lack of a Chinese trade deal all contribute to the selling. The dollar is trading sharply higher, to boot. Markets will be watching the news tonight and tomorrow for more details on the tariffs expected to be issued by the US and China.  No doubt China will retaliate, and beans could be in the crosshairs.

Three consecutive sessions with at least a $.15 move makes for an exhausting week, and we still have one more day to go. The defensive price action started overnight with Chicago lower. During the opening hour of the day, twice we saw trade make a run below $5.00, but each time that level held. A late morning rally across the entire grain floor gave the wheat market a spark. We probably began to see those who bought the market post-report start exiting their position today, but more so it sure feels like we are seeing funds exit their long position across all commodities as so to limit their exposure with Friday being the deadline on whether tariff’s will be imposed by the US on China. The thinking this morning was psychologically, the $5.00 level should provide support for July wheat, and it did. But if this level cannot hold tomorrow, a test of the May lows would not be too far behind. Iraq buying only Aussie wheat overnight and no US had to be a little disappointing, but not unexpected, and export sales were once again mediocre at best. I know it is a few weeks away, but the June 30 crop report should be favorable to wheat – especially KC, as we will probably see a big reduction in acres in Kansas, and a slight reduction in Oklahoma, Texas and Colorado. That will finally give us the drop production estimates that everyone is looking for. But until we get a little closer to that report, positive influential data might be hard to come by. Maybe the rhetoric surrounding US/China trade relations will ease and we can find a silver lining there.

Anna Kaverman

Market Report

Wednesday June 13th, 2018

July corn closed down 1 ½ at $3.76 and December closed down 1 ¼ at $3.97. July soybeans closed down 18 at $9.36 and November closed down 15 ¾ at $9.58 ¾. July wheat closed down 18 at $5.16 ½ and September closed down 17 ¼ at $5.32 ¾. Crude oil closed up $.24 at $66.52.

Corn prices slumped slightly on spillover weakness from other grains, although losses were mostly minimized. Corn basis bids were steady to mixed Wednesday, accounting for regional variances in supply and demand. Bids trended as much as 6 cents higher and 2 cents lower across Midwestern locations. Informa Economics has lowered its latest 2018 U.S. corn acre estimates from 89.0 million acres last month to 88.706 million acres. Ahead of Thursday morning’s USDA export report, trade analysts expect the agency to report between 31.5 million bushels and 51.2 million bushels in corn export sales for the week ending June 7. French consultancy FranceAgriMer says the country’s 2017/18 corn stocks are up slightly to 110 million bushels – up 3.7% from a month ago.

The soybean market resumed its break, unable to build upon yesterday’s reversal as a modestly higher overnight opening trade turned into another sharply lower settlement and another new low for the move. Favorable growing conditions, the absence of a weather threat, fund liquidation, tech sellers, panic sellers and lack of a Chinese trade deal are all weighing on prices.

The US is preparing a list of tariffs that is scheduled to be published on Friday, the tariffs can legally be enacted at that point or thereafter. If the 25% tariff on $50 billion of Chinese imports is enacted, it is expected that China would immediately retaliate with tariffs on US goods including agriculture. This has been a black cloud hanging over the soybean market since the trade talks began but we are now approaching a critical timing where either China makes a deal or we take the trade war to a new and more painful level for both sides.

China cannot source its soybean needs on South American production alone and it is safe to say they will not disrupt their people’s diets by just going without. The US has the benefit of supporting farmers with government assistance in the case of economic loss due to a tariff situation as the administration has already stated. When a deal is made you will likely see a significant sales intention headline accompanying it for new crop beans among other agricultural products. On a near term basis, China is struggling with too much supply from their aggressive purchases of Brazilian beans but that backlog will work its way through and fourth quarter needs still have to be covered. Even though China has been largely absent from our market (which is seasonally normal for this time of year), other export demand has been quietly decent and we are bridging the gap in USDA export projections and our pace of shipments.  Everyone sees the record crush and overall soybean demand is strong as was reflected in yesterday’s crop report. Elsewhere in the news, Informa acres – corn 88.7 beans 89.9 compared to the USDA last at 88.0 and 89.0 respectively.

Price action tried to follow up Tuesday’s explosive trade with early gains overnight, but the rally quickly fizzled and the markets spent the rest of the night trading lower. The selling continued once we moved into the day session, with prices gradually weakening throughout the day. The bleeding seemed to finally stop during the final hour of the day, but futures remained in the lower end of the day’s range through the close. There was really no story to justify today’s price action, similarly to yesterday when there was no story to justify Tuesday’s post-report move.

It was all about the crop report yesterday, and as we have been saying for the past 24 hours, the data from the report did not justify a rally. Trade wants to talk about US ending stocks being lowered 9 MB. Well, that came on the heels of a 25 mil increase in exports, and there are some that want to talk about the USDA raising that figure a couple more times this year. But, we could not meet our expectations on exports this past year, and the start of the new year and foreseeable future is not very promising. Why the increase then? Maybe because trade wants to talk about World production being lowered. Granted the Russian wheat crop reduction was a big surprise, but most of the other World reductions were expected, and World ending stocks for this year and next year were raised and remain enormously large. Not to mention here in the US, production was increased in all three classes, with the HRW wheat increase probably the biggest surprise of the report. Don’t know what was behind the strong price action Tuesday post-report, but was not surprised at all to see trade give most of that rally back today. Looking ahead to the rest of the week, a big export number in the morning would go a long way to justifying why the USDA raised exports 25 mil yesterday. Nothing over the past ten days leads me to believe we will see one. Friday is the deadline on whether tariff’s will be imposed by the US on China.

Anna Kaverman

Market Report

Monday June 11th, 2018

July corn closed down 10 ½ at $3.67 ¼ and December closed down 9 ¾ at $3.88 ¼. July soybeans closed down 15 ½ at $9.53 ¾ and November closed down 16 at $9.73 ¾. July wheat closed down 5 ½ at $5.14 ½ and September closed down 6 at $5.30 ¾. Crude oil closed down $.06 at $66.03.

The corn bulls likely breathed a small sigh of relief when the corn market traded steady/better after a wet weekend. That relief proved short-lived. Corn went “full red” into the dawn, and retreated all day long, eventually closing more than $.10 lower for the day in the July contract. Since peaking at the end of May, July has quickly surrendered $.45 off that high.  Managed Money funds were estimated net sellers of 35,000 today.

Crop Progress data after the close likely did not raise too many eyebrows, at least when glancing at the national ratings. US corn Good-Excellent down ticked for a second week, falling -1% G-E to 77% G-E. Poor-Very Poor up-ticked by 1% to +4% P-VP.  This compares to 67% G-E and 8% P-VP seen this time last year.  There were a lot of states with small declines, a few with rather large drops, and only a few net gainers. Traders were a little surprised the national average didn’t dip further.  Notable was the 11% G-E declines in Missouri, 13% in North Carolina, and 7% in South Dakota. Only MN and KS were up 2% G-E, while IL/MI/OH, were each up 1% G-E?  Emergence moved up to 94%; only Michigan and Pennsylvania are significantly behind average.  As noted in the opener, rains were pretty good over the weekend, significantly improving soil moisture in Eastern Iowa and indeed most of the Eastern Belt. Southern Corn Belt areas (KS/NE/MO) tended to dry out. Not all perfect, but there is more than enough good to offset the bad.

The weekly grain inspections report mid-day remained consistently good for corn. 1.41 mmt of corn were shipped for the week ended 6/7, which compares to 1.56 mmt last week, and 1.07 mmt in the year ago week. Shipments are rapidly catching up with year ago levels. Total YTD just under 41 mmt versus last year at 45.4 mmt. Maintaining the current pace for the balance of the marketing year will easily reach current USDA sales projections, and we have more than enough outstanding sales on the books to do exactly that.

Elsewhere, it was a rather rough day in the meats, with both hogs and cattle finishing $1 lower. Macros and “Trade War” watchers will be watching for progress out of the North Korea-US summit tomorrow. Dairy and ethanol were both lower as well, the latter tracking the corn decline. USDA monthly S&D is due out tomorrow. The June report is usually not a market-mover, as there will be no “real” production data. It is not unheard of for the USDA to adjust yields based on crop conditions, though we note they already started quite high. Further downgrades are likely on world crops, most notably Brazil and possibly EU/Ukraine/Russia.  The average analyst guess going in is for very small declines in both US and world carryout from the prior report in May.

The soybean market extended its collapse with July beans falling more than $.15 to a 10-month low. The weakness can be tied to a combination of factors from China trade selling to weather selling to fund liquidation to tech selling to panic selling; you name it and it is here and lined up for the bear. Crop conditions this afternoon should show soybean conditions steady to better with the remaining unplanted acres limited to double crop.

Tomorrow we get the USDA crop report and while the trade is not anticipating any major adjustments to the balance sheet, crop reports have the potential to calm the panic by refocusing on the stats.  The avg. trade estimates show a slight 8 mb tightening of old crop beans stocks to 522 mb and a 2 mb increase for the new crop to 417 mb.  In the world numbers the old crop carryout tightens by less than 1 mmt to 91.35 mmt while new crop holds about steady at 86.74 mmt.   A reduction of Argentina’s soybean crop of 1.1 mmt is partly offset by a .4 mmt increase for Brazil.

Weekly beans inspected for shipment totaled 644 mt compared to 573 mt last week and 512 mt this week last year. Year to date shipments stand at 47.5 mmt vs. 51.6 mmt this time last year representing a 151 million bushel deficit to last year’s pace while the USDA most recently projected a 109 million bushel deficit for this year. The deficit has been tightening so despite limited Chinese trade our export activity is quietly stronger to other destinations as we try to narrow the gap to the USDA projection. Weekend rains were heavy in parts of IA/IL/IN including 4-5 inches in some spots (some localized 8 inch totals) while 75% of the corn belt received a good drink.  Plenty of moisture for most crops for the next two weeks along with above normal temps. The midday maps were somewhat drier for the Midwest but also showed less heat.

Considering how much the corn market and soy complex struggled, the wheat complex held up rather well today. There was plenty of positive news around for the wheat complex as it headed into morning trade, but with corn and soy trending lower, it was hard to imagine wheat extending gains much. Crop progress-condition reports this afternoon showed SRW wheat conditions improving, while HRW wheat conditions fell slightly. This should give the KC/Chicago spread a boost overnight, but the crop report Tuesday morning will eventually take precedence over everything.

Crop Report Tuesday morning. ** MINOR ADJUSTMENTS **  It is usually a minor one for wheat as the bigger report comes at the end of the month, but we will see some surprises in the state by state breakdown for both production and yield. Kansas, Oklahoma, Montana and South Dakota all have the potential to see lower production estimates as either harvested acres or yield or both were just simply too high last month. But there will be improvements in the White winter wheat states that could offset the reductions some. Last month we thought several SRW wheat states projected yields were just too high as well, but over the past month that crop has improved and the USDA looks to be accurate, if not too low in some of the SRW wheat states. Look for 2018/19 winter wheat production to be very similar to last month’s 1.191 bil bu estimate.

Look for HRW wheat to come in around 639 mil bu vs 647 mil bu last month, look for SRW wheat to come in around 320 MB vs 315 MB  last month and look for White winter wheat to come in around 232 MB vs 229 mil bu last month. Traders are expecting some minor upward revisions in 17/18 and 18/19 US ending stocks. Look for 17/18 US ending stocks to come in somewhere around 1.080 BB vs 1.070 BB last month. 18/19 US ending stocks should come in around 960 mil bu vs 955 mil bu last month. With recent weather problems around the globe, World wheat ending stocks should be lower than last month. Look for 17/18 Global wheat stocks to be sub 268 MMT vs 270.46 MMT in May and 18/19 world wheat ending stocks should see an even a bigger decline, maybe as much as 4 MMT below May’s 264.33 MMT estimate. In the S&D’s, do not be surprised if they take exports down 25.

Anna Kaverman