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Afternoon market recap: Corn and soybeans also make moderate inroads on Tuesday.

Ben Potter

February 20, 2024

6 Min Read
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At a Glance

  • Winter wheat contracts climb 3.5% higher, with spring wheat prices up around 1.75%
  • Corn and soybeans trend more than 0.5% higher
  • Plus: Private exporters announced two more flash sales to USDA this morning

Grain prices have been nothing short of embattled in recent weeks and months. Prices have fallen far enough to attract the occasional round of bargain buying and short-covering, which is exactly what happened on Tuesday. Winter wheat contracts found the biggest bounce, rising around 3.5% higher, with spring wheat prices trending around 1.5% higher. Corn and soybean prices captured more modest gains, with each commodity tracking more than 0.5% higher.

Some additional rains will be possible in the Ohio River Valley between Wednesday and Saturday, with some fields likely to gather another 0.5” or more during this time, while areas farther west are more probable to remain completely dry later this week, per the latest 72-hour cumulative precipitation map from NOAA. Later on, NOAA’s new 8-to-14-day outlook predicts a return to seasonally wet weather for most of the Corn Belt between February 27 and March 4, with warmer-than-normal temperatures probable for the Midwest and Plains.

On Wall St., the Dow eased 69 points lower in afternoon trading to 38,558. Weakness in the tech sector also pushed the Nasdaq into the red today. Energy futures also spilled into the red, with crude oil sinking 1.75% lower this afternoon to move back below $78 per barrel on uncertainty regarding global demand. Diesel and gasoline each eroded around 2.75% lower. The U.S. Dollar softened moderately.

On Friday, commodity funds were net buyers of soybeans (+3,500) and soymeal (+3,500) contracts but were net sellers of corn (-1,500), soyoil (-2,000) and CBOT wheat (-3,500).

Corn

Corn prices trended more than 0.5% higher following a round of technical buying on Tuesday that was partly spurred by spillover support from other grains. March and May futures each added 2.5 cents to close at $4.19 and $4.32, respectively.

Corn basis bids shifted 5 cents higher at an Ohio elevator while holding steady elsewhere across the central U.S. on Tuesday.

Private exporters announced the sale of 6.1 million bushels of corn for delivery to Japan during the 2024/25 marketing year, which begins September 1.

Corn export inspections moved slightly higher week-over-week to reach 36.2 million bushels. That was also toward the higher end of trade guesses, which ranged between 27.6 million and 41.3 million bushels. Mexico was the No. 1 destination, with 16.4 million bushels. Cumulative totals for the 2023/24 marketing year are still tracking moderately higher than last year’s pace after reaching 713.3 million bushels.

“Winter isn’t over just yet in the grain market, with corn and soybean futures grinding out more new lows last week,” notes grain market analyst Bryce Knorr. “But spring is in sight, and along with it prospects for rallies during the growing season ahead. Despite the market’s current funk, history shows at least decent odds of hedging expected production for a profitable price.” Knorr reviews some of that historical data in today’s Ag Marketing IQ blog – click here to learn more.

Per the latest data from the European Commission, out earlier today, EU corn imports during the 2023/24 marketing year remain noticeably below last year’s pace after reaching 428.7 million bushels through February 2.

Iran issued an international tender to purchase 4.7 million bushels of animal feed corn from Brazil, Europe or the Black Sea region that closes today. The grain is for shipment in March and April.

South Korea purchased 2.6 million bushels, likely sourced from South America or South Africa, in a deal that recently closed. The grain is for shipment starting in early April, depending on where it is sourced.

Large speculators increased their net short position in corn by another 17,389 contracts to 322,781 in the week through February 13.

Preliminary volume estimates were for 421,813 contracts, inching fractionally above Friday’s final count of 421,339.

Soybeans

Soybean prices made moderate inroads on a round of technical buying on Tuesday. March futures added 6.5 cents to $11.7875, with May futures up 7.25 cents to $11.8350.

The rest of the soy complex was mixed. March soymeal futures moved 0.75% higher, while March soyoil futures faded 0.5% lower.

Soybean basis bids trended 5 cents higher at an Indiana processor and 2 cents higher at an Ohio elevator while holding steady elsewhere across the central U.S. on Tuesday.

Private exporters announced the sale of 228,000 metric tons of soymeal for delivery to the Philippines during the 2023/24 marketing year, which began October 1.

Soybean export inspections reached 43.6 million bushels last week. That was toward the higher end of analyst estimates, which ranged between 22.0 million and 53.3 million bushels. China was by far the top destination, with 24.2 million bushels. Cumulative totals for the 2023/24 marketing year are still moderately lower than last year’s pace so far, with 1.175 billion bushels.

Brazilian consultancy AgRural says the country’s 2023/24 soybean harvest progress has reached 32% through February 15, which is up 9 points from the prior week and ahead of last year’s pace of 25% so far. The country has struggled with plenty of hot, dry weather earlier in the season, but most entities are still expecting to see production reach 5.6 billion or 5.7 billion bushels.

Meantime, Brazil’s Safras & Mercado estimates that the country will export 3.454 billion bushels in 2024, which would be a year-over-year decrease of 7.7%, if realized. Brazil’s soybean crush could slightly exceed last year’s volume, with an expected output of 1.995 billion bushels.

European Union soybean imports during the 2023/24 marketing year have reached 264.6 million bushels through February 13. EU soymeal imports reached 9.05 million metric tons over the same period.

Iran issued an international tender to purchase 120,000 metric tons of soymeal from Argentina or Brazil that closes today. The grain is for shipment in March and April.

Large speculators trimmed their net short position in soybeans by 391 contracts to 162,184 in the week through February 13.

Preliminary volume estimates were for 263,545 contracts, firming moderately above Friday’s final count of 229,506.

Wheat

Wheat prices jumped noticeably higher following a round of short-covering and bargain buying on Tuesday. March Chicago SRW futures climbed 20.75 cents to $5.8125, March Kansas City HRW futures rose 19.25 cents to $5.8650, and March MGEX spring wheat futures added 9.75 cents to $6.6450.

Wheat export inspections eased slightly lower to 14.0 million bushels last week. That was near the middle of analyst estimates, which ranged between 11.0 million and 18.4 million bushels. Japan was the No. 1 destination, with 3.5 million bushels. Cumulative totals for the 2023/24 marketing year are still trending moderately below last year’s pace so far after reaching 444.3 million bushels.

Russian consultancy Sovecon estimates that the country’s wheat exports in February will reach 121.3 million bushels. That would be a month-over-month decline of 8.3% and the lowest monthly volume in the current marketing year, if realized. Russia is the world’s No. 1 wheat exporter.

Per the latest data from the European Commission, EU soft wheat exports during the 2023/24 marketing year are slightly lower than last year’s pace so far after reaching 731.2 million bushels through February 13. EU barley exports are also trending slightly lower year-over-year after reaching 162.6 million bushels over the same period.

Japan issued a regular tender to purchase 4.3 million bushels of food-quality wheat from the United States, Canada and Australia that closes on Thursday. Of the total, 26% is expected to be sourced from the U.S. The grain is for shipment starting in late March.

Jordan purchased 1.8 million bushels of hard milling wheat from optional origins in an international tender that closed earlier today. The grain is for shipment during the second half of May. An additional tender that will close on February 27 is expected to be announced soon.

Large speculators cut their net short position in CBOT wheat by 4,330 contracts to 60,693 in the week through February 13.

Preliminary volume estimates were for 170,064 CBOT contracts, which was moderately higher than Friday’s final count of 145,463.

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About the Author(s)

Ben Potter

Senior editor, Farm Futures

Senior Editor Ben Potter brings two decades of professional agricultural communications and journalism experience to Farm Futures. He began working in the industry in the highly specific world of southern row crop production. Since that time, he has expanded his knowledge to cover a broad range of topics relevant to agriculture, including agronomy, machinery, technology, business, marketing, politics and weather. He has won several writing awards from the American Agricultural Editors Association, most recently on two features about drones and farmers who operate distilleries as a side business. Ben is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

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