It has not been much of a holiday for markets heading into the Christmas holiday.
There is the ongoing trade war between China and the U.S. Yes, there have been a couple purchases of soybeans by China as a good-faith measure. But the volumes and number of sales have not impressed the markets. Now, the U.S. government could shut down at the end of the week as President Donald Trump is holding out for funding for a border wall. Stock prices are crumbling as crude oil continues its fall. It is not shaping up to be a very merry Christmas for most folks in the trading world.
Wheat markets turned lower this week. Last week's support from potential export curbs in Russia have lost steam and prices have stepped down. Attention into the new year will be focused on Australia and Argentina weather, as well as global trade patterns.
Durum prices have been sitting on the lows all year, with supplies comfortable and weak demand. There just has not been much to get prices excited. According to Cam Dahl of Cereals Canada, there could be relief in 2019 with renewed export interest. His recent trip to some key importing countries such as Italy and Morocco suggest that there is demand for high-quality durum that Canada has available to sell. Representatives in Italy are looking for more Canadian supplies. The question is how quickly this demand will return and provide a much-needed spark to the durum market.
The canola market has been relatively quiet over the last week. Prices initially declined with the G20 agreement between the U.S. and China to hold tariffs and work toward a resolution. But canola is now in a precarious position. On the one hand, prices have come down to a more competitive level with other fats, so there is potentially more export demand coming. On the other hand, a US/China trade deal is generally bearish for canola demand with China. Add to that the recent arrest of Chinese executive of telecommunications company Huawei, and the following arrest of Canadians in China, and tensions are mounting with Canada/China as well.
Peas and lentils
Pulses are getting a boost to end 2018. Argentina is struggling to deal with excess rains and their green pea and lentil crops have not fared well. As a result, demand from other South American countries has come to Canada. Additionally, the USDA bought 18.4 thousand metric tons of pulses for food aid this week.
The barley market is eyeing the ongoing dispute between China and Australia. Last month, China initiated an anti-dumping probe for Australian barley supplies that had come in below fair-market value. This week, China has escalated the process to a full investigation. Some see this as a symbolic gesture as barley sales to China are going to be small this year due to high prices on low supplies caused by drought in Australia.
Mustard seed prices have been firming of late. Demand has kept up from both domestic processors and exporters, but selling from producers has lagged. Despite the short term uptick, mustard seed prices remain near historic lows. Grower bids for all classes continue to fall below a year ago, as well.