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Weekly Export Sales: Staring down some disappointments

Soybeans get a boost, while corn and wheat totals drag below expectations.

U.S. grain exports last week were mixed but mostly disappointing after a review of the latest USDA data, released Thursday morning.

“Another mixed week of export business left markets mostly underwhelmed today,” according to Farm Futures senior grain market analyst Bryce Knorr.

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Soybean sales were more robust but tell a complicated story, Knorr adds.

“While USDA reported 70.3 million bushels of new export sales, above trade guesses, 62.8 million bushels of the total was picked up by China,” he says. “And most of those purchases were previously reported under the agency’s daily reporting system for large deals. Lack of significant other sales to China put today’s news of a delay in any trade deal in control of the mood for now.”

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Sales of corn and wheat were disappointing, with both crops falling below the rate needed to reach USDA’s forecasts, which were revised lower last week, Knorr notes.

“Competition for business remains brisk,” he says. “Wheat faces year-end clearance sales out of Europe and the Black Sea, where new crop conditions are good. Brazil’s new crop soybeans are hitting the market, too, with Argentina soon to follow.”

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Soybean’s tally of 70.3 million bushels for the week ending March 7 was substantially higher than the prior week’s tally of 14.1 million bushels and also topped trade estimates of 59.7 million bushels. The weekly rate needed to reach USDA forecasts is now just 14.5 million bushels.

Soybean export shipments were for 30.1 million bushels, coming in slightly below the weekly rate needed to match USDA forecasts, now at 34.8 million bushels. For the 2018/19 marketing year, China leads all destinations for soybean export commitments, with 27% of the total. Other top destinations include the European Union (16%), Mexico (11%) and unknown destinations (6%).

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Corn exports saw 14.6 million bushels in old crop sales plus another 18.7 million bushels in new crop sales, for a total of 33.3 million bushels. That fell below the prior week’s total of 49.2 million bushels and trade estimates of 45.3 million bushels. However, the weekly rate needed to reach USDA forecasts still moved lower, now at 30.6 million bushels.

Corn export shipments of 30.9 million bushels aren’t keeping pace with the weekly rate needed to match USDA forecasts, now at 52.4 million bushels. Mexico is the top destination for corn export commitments so far for the 2018/19 marketing year, with 33% of the total. Other leading destinations include Japan (21%), Colombia (8%), South Korea (8%) and Peru (4%).

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Wheat exports last week included 9.7 million bushels of old crop sales plus another 3.1 million bushels of new crop sales for a total of 12.7 million bushels. That was well below the prior week’s tally of 30.4 million bushels and trade estimates of 22.1 million bushels. The weekly rate needed to meet USDA forecasts is now at 10.2 million bushels.

Wheat export shipments of 27.3 million bushels was slightly below the weekly rate needed to keep pace with USDA forecasts, now at 28.0 million bushels. The Philippines leads all destinations for wheat export commitments for 2018/19, with 13% of the total. Other top destinations include Mexico (12%), Japan (11%), South Korea (6%) and Nigeria (6%).

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