- Corn futures finished mixed to slightly higher to end the week, as the March contract gained 1 ½ cents on the session. A better-than-expected week of export sales helped push corn markets higher to start the session, but selling pressure limited gains. For the week, March futures finished 3 cents lower and has traded lower for 6 consecutive weeks.
- Weekly corn export sales were above the top end of analyst estimates at 49.3 mb (1.251 mmt) as sales improved after two weeks of holiday reduced trade. Total sales commitments are now at 1.241 bb for the 23/24 marketing year and up 36% from last year.
- Mexico continues to be the largest buyer of US corn on the export markets, adding 637,000 mt of new sales last week. China was still absent from the export report for US corn, limiting buying support for the session.
- China’s total corn imported for the 2023 calendar year reached 27.13 mmt, up 32% year over year. December saw a large jump in corn imports at 4.950 mmt, up 471% year over year and a large supply of South American corn filled Chinese demand. The large December imports will likely limit China in the US corn export market until the summer months.
- South America weather looks to maintain a favorable pattern for crop production in the near-term. The improved weather overall should support a potential second Brazil corn crop and help maintain a forecasted record corn production from Argentina later this spring/summer.
- Soybeans began the day trading higher, with March beans up as much as 14 cents at one point, but faded throughout the day to end with a lower close. Both soybean meal and oil also faded throughout the day to a lower close. Lower crude oil and improved rainfall in Brazil has added to pressure in the soy complex.
- For the week, March soybeans lost 11 cents, March soybean meal lost $5.60, and March soybean oil lost 1.35 cents. This was the fifth lower consecutive weekly close in soybeans, as non-commercials have established and continue to add to a net short position. There is some support at the 12-dollar level, but if that breaks, last year’s low is down at 1145 ¼.
- Some encouraging news earlier in the day was the announcement of a large flash sale of 276,000 metric tons of soybeans for delivery to China in the 23/24 marketing year. Chinese imports from Brazil have slowed down, which points to US soybeans becoming more competitive with South America.
- Today’s export sales report was also stronger than expected for soybeans, with an increase of 28.7 mb of export sales for 23/24 and an increase of 0.1 mb for 24/25. Last week’s export shipments of 61.4 mb were firmly above the 24.7 mb needed each week, and primary destinations were to China, Germany, and Mexico.
- Wheat was able to manage another close in positive territory. While a lower US Dollar Index helped today, the market may mainly be seeing more short covering by the funds, resulting from a technical correction of oversold conditions. March Chicago wheat, in particular, has had three higher sessions in a row.
- The USDA reported an increase of 26 mb of wheat export sales for 23/24. Commitments at 592 mb for 23/24 are up 4% from last year. Although, shipments last week of 9 mb were below the pace needed each week of 16.6 mb to meet the USDA’s export goal of 725 mb.
- Matif wheat futures settled with gains for the third consecutive session, which may be lending some support to US wheat, while also indicating that a near-term bottom may have formed.
- Argentina’s wheat crop is reported to be 98% harvested, according to the Buenos Aires Grain Exchange. Their production estimate was kept unchanged at 15.1 mmt, which is well above last year’s 12.2 mmt total.
- According to Strategie Grains, the EU 24/25 soft wheat production estimate was revised lower to 122.7 mmt. They also stated that poor weather conditions are expected to impact the wheat planting area, adding that the decline in production may be offset by a smaller amount of exports.
- The US Climate Prediction Center has forecasted that the El Nino weather pattern will persist through the month of May. Afterwards, it is expected to transition to neutral (neither El Nino nor La Nina) into the US spring and summer. If true, this may indicate above normal temperatures February through April in the Great Lakes and northern Plains areas.
- The Q1 Class III contracts closed with small gains on Friday with second month February futures at $15.79, down 11 cents on the week.
- Spot cheese was up slightly today with a close at $1.45625/lb, but down 4.75 cents on the week. Spot whey was up 2.25 cents today to only close the week a quarter cent lower.
- Class IV futures were mixed with many unchanged from Thursday’s close. The February contract closed the week up a penny at $19.04.
- The shortened week for Class IV spot products had butter down 2.25 cents and powder down a penny, both holding within recent ranges.
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