Storms raise concerns of delayed spring planting
The monthly World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimates report was bearish as the U.S. Department of Agriculture increased both U.S. and world ending stock estimates. U.S. ending stocks were increased by 32 million bushels to 1.087 billion vs. the average trade guess of 1.075 billion. Exports were lowered 20 million bushels and feed usage was lowered 10 million. USDA lowered hard red stocks by 5 million bushels but increased each of the other classes. Spring Wheat increased 16 million bushels, soft red 5 million bushels, white wheat 10 million bushels and durum 6 million bushels.
World stocks were very negative with USDA increasing almost 5 million metric tons to 275.6 million metric tons vs. average trade guesses of 271.2 million metric tons. The overall assumption is improved crops and increased export competition from Australia, the European Union and the former Soviet Union region compared to last year.
Weekly crop progress showed an overall average improvement of 4% in the good to excellent category across the primary growing states. Improvements were Kansas up 3%, Oklahoma up 7%, Texas up 6% and Colorado up 4%. Colorado declined 2% in the poor to very poor category. The soft red belt continues to struggle as Michigan saw a 15% decline in the good to excellent ratings and a 5% increase in poor to very poor ratings. Ohio improved 1% but is still rated at only 29% good to excellent.
Weekly export inspections were 539,000 metric tons (19.8 million bushels) which was at the high end of expectations. Cumulative inspections total 712 million bushels and are running 5% less than last year's pace. USDA is estimating a 7% increase this year. Inspections need to average 26.8 million bushels for the remaining eight weeks of the marketing year to meet USDA's target. Weekly export sales were below expectations at 273,000 metric tons (10 million bushels). Commitments of 904 million bushels are running 7% above last year but weekly shipments of 21.6 million bushels were 3% less than a year ago.
Areas of Europe are on the dry side including Spain, France and Germany. This has been supporting Matif wheat futures this week. Matif front month closed at $189.00 per metric ton as there is concern about germination in these areas. There is resistance at the $190 per metric ton level. We would need to see some continued dryness to push that contract above resistance and lead to additional short covering.
The late week winter storm system provided more support for Minneapolis contracts. Eight- to 14-day forecasts show a cooler pattern for all three major wheat belts with wetter conditions favored for the soft red belt.
For the week ending April 11th, May contracts for Minneapolis wheat were up 10.75 cents at $5.3325, down 7.25 cents at $4.605 for Chicago wheat, and down 0.75 cents at $4.305 for Kansas City wheat.
Corn struggled on the week with increasing stocks numbers but managed to avoid any steep losses on a rather wet and cool forecast for the Corn Belt. The monthly WASDE report lowered corn demand by 200 million bushels and thus raised ending stocks by 200 million bushels. U.S. ending corn stocks for 2018/19 are now estimated at 2.035 billion bushels vs. the average trade guess of 1.988 billion bushels. Exports were reduced 75 million bushels. Ethanol usage was reduced 50 million bushels and feed usage was reduced 75 million bushels. World ending stocks were also increased. USDA is estimating a 2018/19 carryover of 314.01 million metric tons vs. the average pre report estimate of 311.6 million metric tons and 308.5 million metric tons last month. Argentina production was increased 1 million metric tons to 47 million metric tons and Brazil was increased 1.5 million metric tons to 96 million metric tons.
CONAB, which provides evaluations of Brazilian crops, increased Safrina second crop corn production to 68.1 million metric tons from 66.6 million metric tons last month. This compares to 53.9 million metric tons last year. First crop corn was lowered slightly to 25.9 million metric tons from 26.2 million metric tons last month and compares to 26.8 million metric tons last year. CONAB left Brazil export estimates unchanged at 31 million metric tons.
Weekly export sales were below expectations at 548,000 metric tons (21.6 million bushels). Total commitments are 1.722 billion bushels and are running 9% behind last year's pace. Weekly export inspections totaled 1.035 million metric tons (40.8 million bushels) and were at the low end of expectations. Cumulative export inspections of 1.209 billion bushels are running 16% above last year's pace. However; inspections need to average 42.5 million bushels per week to meet USDA's projection of 2.375 billion bushels. Over the last three months, inspections have been averaging 36.1 million bushels. South Korea was the largest buyer on the week, purchasing 136,000 metric tons of corn from South American origin.
USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue stated that China trade discussions have included the potential of lowering the import tariff on U.S. ethanol. China last year stated they were moving to a 10% ethanol standard but statements throughout last fall and this winter have been mixed.
Weekly ethanol production was 7.014 million barrels, up 0.3% from last week but down 3.09% from last year. Stocks as of April 5 were 23.193 million barrels, down 3.33% from last week but up 6.17% vs. last year. The 34 million gallon cut was the largest single week stocks decline in 23 weeks. This was likely due to a notable increase in weekly gasoline demand from 9.131 million barrels per day to 9.806 million barrels per day. Calendar year gasoline demand is running 0.2% below last year. Ethanol usage was cut in the WASDE report by 50 million bushels to 5.5 billion bushels. Even with this reduction, ethanol will need to run 2.3% above last year's pace through August to reach this target. Since November of 2018, ethanol has only had two weeks where it produced above year ago levels. Despite this slower production pace, ethanol stocks remain at historically high levels.
Weekly crude oil stocks rose sharply more than expected to 456.55 million barrels. Gasoline stocks declined significantly more than expected to 229.13 million barrels. Distillate stocks remained nearly unchanged at 128.05 million barrels. Despite the increase in stocks, crude oil futures made new recent highs in deferred contracts at the $64.70 range.
It was another slow week in the markets as May soybeans don't seem to want to stray too far away from the $9 level with the ongoing possibility of an agreement getting completed with China. The rumor now is the earliest an agreement could get reached is at least a month away, but we will see when we get there.
There has been a lot of talk lately that the swine flu in China is getting under reported and is worse than they are letting on. They also found a case in southern Africa, so it seems to be spreading and not very well contained. This does not bode well for global soybean meal usage, but the U.S. could see domestic use increase because of troubles abroad.
With an expected 895 million bushel U.S. carryout, soybean futures really do not need to be priced up at these levels. There is still enough fear of getting trapped on the short side if a deal is signed that the funds are not yet comfortable pushing it lower at this time. An expected decrease in acres is also giving this market support. There may be some acre changes if spring wheat in the Dakotas if it cannot be planted in a timely factor due to a late spring. It is likely some of those acres will get switched to soybeans if delays persist. That may be offset by prevent plant acres if wet and cool weather stays in the forecast into May, but it is much too early to be talking about acres not getting planted.
The April WASDE report was neutral compared to pre-report estimates. The USDA lowered ending stocks 5 million bushels to 895 million bushels, near the average of pre-report estimates. Pre-report estimates ranged from 845 million bushels to 935 million. The USDA left exports unchanged at 1.835 billion bushels. The USDA did decrease imports 3 million bushels and increased seed usage 2 million bushels. World stocks were raised 200,000 metric tons to 107.4 million metric tons. This was on the lower end of private estimates.
Brazil's production was raised back up 0.5 million metric tons to 117 million metric tons. CONAB upped Brazil's soy crop only 0.3 million metric tons to 113.8 million metric tons compared to the USDA raising its estimates to 117 million metric tons for Brazil. With most of Brazil's soybeans harvested at this point, Brazil is in position to keep China well stocked with soybeans for the foreseeable future. Argentina soybean production was left unchanged at 55 million metric tons. The Rosario Grain Exchange upped Argentina's soy crop 2 million metric tons to 56 million metric tons.
The weekly export report showed disappointing exports sales for the week ending April 4. The USDA only reported 9.9 million bushels of soybean export sales for 2018-19 and 0.4 million bushels for 2019-20. Total commitments of 1.613 billion bushels in 2018-19 are down 17% from a year ago. Inspections for 2018-19 now total 1.109 billion bushels, down 28% from the previous year.
November soybean support is the March 29 low of $9.18, which was the lowest close since Nov. 26 and then the psychological $9 mark is support after that. The contract low of $8.6475 set in mid-July is now major support. Resistance is the nine-month high of $9.71 that was set on Dec. 12. November soybeans were down 4.5 cents for the week ending April 11.
For the week ending April 11, May Canola futures were down $1.20 at $456.20 per metric ton in Canadian dollars. The April Canadian dollar was at 0.7477. This brings the U.S. price to $15.47 per hundredweight in U.S. dollars.
• Velva, N.D., $15.69 per hundredweight, June $15.39
• Enderlin, N.D., $16.38 per hundredweight, June $16.31
• Hallock, Minn., $15.15 per hundredweight, June $15.60
• Fargo, N.D., $0 per hundredweight, June $16.25
Cash feed barley bids in Minneapolis were at $3, while malting barley received no quote. Berthold bid is $2.50 and CHS Southwest New Salem bid is $2.55.
Cash bids for milling quality durum are $4.50 in Berthold and at $4.40 in Dickinson.
Cash sunflower bids in Fargo were at $17.50. May $17.55.
For the week ending April 11, soybean oil was down 17 cents at $28.98 on the May contract.