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GRAIN MARKETS: Soybeans top $10 again

Dry weather in South America pushing some grain prices higher.

By Ben Potter

La Niña conditions have contributed to some drier-than-normal conditions in South America, which helped push soybeans into double-digit gains, with January contracts finishing north of $10 for the first time since mid-October. Corn and wheat prices didn’t follow suit, however, making small adjustments in Tuesday’s session.

The weather turned significantly colder on Tuesday, but when measured against seasonal averages, temperatures will remain warmer than normal in many areas into Wednesday, including most of the eastern U.S. As temperatures continue to drop later in the week, the Midwest and Plains will finally see widespread cooler-than-normal weather by Friday. The eastern one-third of the country is most likely to receive precipitation on Wednesday. 

On Wall Street, stocks were down slightly, with the Dow dipping 32 points in early afternoon trading. Investors eye a key difference between the House and Senate versions of the tax bill – the Senate version does not eliminate the corporate alternative minimum tax, while the House version does. Energy futures were mixed, with crude oil, diesel and gasoline prices gaining between 0.5% and 1.5%, as natural gas prices dropped nearly 3%.

Corn prices overcame some early morning volatility, trading in a narrow range from midmorning to close, and finishing close to unchanged from Monday. December futures finished up 0.25 cents to close at $3.3975, while March futures gained an equal amount to close at $3.5375..

South Korea has purchased about 2.2 million bushels of corn in an international tender that closed Tuesday, for arrival by March 20, 2018.

Private exporters announced to USDA the sale of 6.4 million bushels of grain sorghum for delivery to China in the 2017/18 marketing year, which began September 1.

Informa Economics has lowered its estimates for Brazil’s 2017/18 corn production from 3.6219 billion bushels to 3.5038 billion bushels. Farm Futures and Informa Economics are both owned by Informa PLC.

Preliminary volume estimates were for 219,034 contracts, down significantly from Monday’s total of 380,552.

Soybean prices continued its recent rally on South American weather concerns, landing at four-month highs after closing with double-digit gains. January futures finished back over $10 a bushel, climbing to $10.0850. March futures tacked on another 10.25 cents to close at $10.2050.

Weather concerns from Argentina also pushed soymeal and soyoil prices higher in Tuesday’s session. December soymeal futures were up 1.88%, while soyoil took much more modest gains of 0.15%.

Biodiesel anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties are likely to remain in effect after the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled that these practices in Argentina and Indonesia negatively affect U.S. producers.

Informa Economics IEG has lowered its estimates for Brazil’s 2017/18 soybean production by 36.7 million bushels for a total of 4.0418 billion bushels.

Preliminary volume estimates were for 254,437 contracts, which was moderately lower than Monday’s tally of 302,640.

Wheat prices are back near contract lows, as technical trading and big global supplies applied downward pressure once again. December Chicago SRW futures were down 4.25 cents to close at $4.06, December Kansas City HRW prices fell 5.25 cents to close at $4.1475, and December MGEX Spring Wheat prices were down 5 cents to close at $6.09.

China has sold 9.1 million bushels of wheat at an auction of its state reserves. That volume accounted for 12.5% of the total wheat available at the auction. 

Japan may purchase 5.7 million bushels of food-quality wheat from the U.S., Canada and Australia in a regular tender that closes December 7. About 41% of the total volume could come from the U.S.

Russia has raised its grain export estimates for 2017/18 from 1.6351 billion bushels to 1.6902 billion bushels. That includes estimated wheat exports of around 1.2971 billion bushels. Grain stocks are at record levels, but grain exports are moving at a record pace, according to Russia’s grain consultancy IKAR.

Crimea’s agriculture minister reports that the country had ample grain to cover its domestic needs and was able to export around 2.2 million bushels of grain in 2017, mostly to India, Saudi Arabia and Syria. 

Informa economics now estimates Australia’s 2017/18 wheat production has decreased by 47.8 million bushels, to 745.9 million bushels. Informa also revised its estimates for the 2017/18 Argentina wheat crop, projecting total production of 661.4 million bushels. That’s about 11 million bushels more than previous estimates.

Preliminary volume estimates were for 69,562 CBOT contracts, a moderate decline from Monday’s total of 86,800.

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