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Weekly Export Sales: Last week’s tally fails to inspire

Corn, soybeans and wheat all fall below average trade guesses last week.

With another round of USDA export data in the books, the latest numbers look pretty pedestrian, according to Farm Futures senior grain market analyst Bryce Knorr.

“Export data out this morning was fairly lackluster all around and didn’t appear to affect markets much either,” he says.

As grain markets continue to place great scrutiny on sales trends to China, Knorr notes the country picked up a couple of loads last week – however, most of those purchases were switched from previously announced sales headed to “unknown destinations,” so they didn’t have a large impact on total bookings.

“And China has 280 million bushels of unshipped sales, suggesting buyers may be waiting for a trade deal to get hammered out before taking delivery,” Knorr adds. Total sales to all customers fell well below trade guesses but still were close to the rate of new purchases needed through August to reach USDA’s forecast for the 2018 crop. But the problem isn’t with sales – it’s slow shipments.”

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For the week ending April 25, soybeans notched 11.5 million bushels in old crop sales plus another 900,000 bushels of new crop sales, for a total tally of 12.4 million bushels. That was moderately behind the prior week’s total of 21.9 million bushels and the average trade guess of 23.9 million bushels. Still, the weekly rate needed to match moved lower to a manageable 12.0 million bushels.

Soybean export shipments were for 34.9 million bushels last week. Year-to-date soybean export commitments for 2018/19 has China as the No. 1 destination, accounting for 29% of the total. Other top destinations include the European Union (15%), Mexico (10%), Egypt (5%), Japan (5%) and unknown destinations (5%).

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Corn exports last week found 23.1 million bushels in old crop sales plus another 8.2 million bushels in new crop sales, for a total of 31.3 million bushels. That was slightly ahead of the prior week’s tally of 30.7 million bushels but below the average trade guess of 33.5 million bushels. The weekly rate needed to pace USDA forecasts eased to 27.0 million bushels.

Corn export shipments were for 40.4 million bushels. Mexico is the No. 1 destination so far in the 2018/19 marketing year, accounting for 32% of the total. Other top destinations include Japan (23%), Colombia (9%) and South Korea (8%).

“Corn sales and shipments both need to pick up, but activity likely has been hurt by shipping delays due to flooding on the river system,” Knorr says. “The situation isn’t likely to get better until Mid-May, and next week it will actually get worse when the harbor at St. Louis closes due to forecast major flooding.”

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Wheat exports reached 4.5 million bushels in old crop sales plus another 10.9 million bushels in new crop sales, for a total of 15.4 million bushels. That was fractionally below the prior week’s total of 15.6 million bushels and moderately below trade estimates of 20.2 million bushels.

“Old crop wheat export sales were actually more than needed, but are coming too late in the marketing year to affect the overall total much for the 2018 crop,” Knorr says. “New crop bookings are above last year’s rate but don’t suggest a real boom in business.”

Wheat export shipments were for 16.2 million bushels last week. As the 2018/19 marketing year wraps up at the end of the month, Mexico is leading the pace for U.S. wheat export commitments, with 13% of the total. Other top destinations include the Philippines (12%), Japan (11%), Nigeria (6%) and South Korea (6%).

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