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Afternoon Market Recap for March 21, 2018

Wednesday features big price ranges, small changes.

Choppy soybean and wheat sessions end the day close to where they started

Corn prices traded in a narrow range Wednesday, with soybean and wheat futures enduring a choppier session. Ultimately, grain prices finished the day with little changed, as traders may prefer to hold steady for the next round of USDA export data, out Thursday morning. 

Looking for more rain/snow? Plenty of precipitation is eminent along the East and West Coasts, but the central U.S. will need to wait until the weekend to catch the next round of accumulation. Temperatures will remain seasonally cool over the next several days for most areas east of the Plains.

Wall St. seemed to shrug off rumors of trade wars and another 0.25% interest rate hike from the Federal Reserve, with the Dow picking up 101 points in early afternoon trading. Energy prices were up big again, anchored by 2.5% gains in crude oil, which was trading back above $65 per barrel for the first time since early February. The U.S. Dollar reversed some of its gains from Tuesday.

Congress expects to unveil a $1.3 trillion budget later Wednesday that provides funding for the federal government through the end of September. It must be approved by Friday to avoid another governmental shutdown. As of early Wednesday afternoon, exact details of the spending plan had yet to be revealed.


Corn prices stayed in a narrow trading range Wednesday and finished slightly higher on a round of technical buying, with May and July futures both picking up a half-cent to reach $3.75 and $3.83, respectively.

Corn spot basis bids were mostly steady to 1-3 cents higher across Midwestern locations amid relatively slow farmer sales. Bucking the trend were two Illinois river terminals, which trended 6 to 8 cents lower.

Private exporters reported to USDA the sale of 5.4 million bushels of corn for delivery to South Korea during the 2017/18 marketing year, which began September 1. It was the fourth large corn sale reported so far this week.

Weekly ethanol production trended 24,000 barrels per day higher for the week ending March 16, for a total pace of 1.049 million barrels produced daily. Daily production has averaged just over 1 million barrels for day for the past two and a half months.

Ahead of Thursday’s USDA weekly export sales report, trade estimates for corn exports for the week ending March 15 ranges between 59.1 million and 94.5 million bushels. The high end of those estimates would give corn exports a new marketing-year high for 2017/18.

Late Tuesday, South Korea also purchased around 7.7 million bushels of corn, optioned from the U.S. and/or South America, in private non-tender deals, and for arrival in mid-August. 

Grain traveling U.S. railways last week totaled 23,682 carloads, up 1.9% year-over-year. Year-to-date volume is 4.9% below the pace of 2017, however.

Preliminary volume estimates were for 254,691 contracts, down almost 28% from Tuesday’s final total of 353,221.


Soybean prices trended higher as technical buyers stepped in, helping May and July futures each gain 1.5 cents to close at $10.2975 and $10.4050, respectively. May prices were as high as $10.3725 and as low as $10.2475 during the choppy session.

Soymeal, soyoil and canola futures also trended higher Wednesday, with soyoil capturing nearly 2% gains.

Soybean spot basis bids were mixed Wednesday, trending as much as 3 cents higher and 9 cents lower across Midwestern locations. Most bids didn’t see changes, however.

Ahead of Thursday’s USDA weekly export sales report, trade estimates for soybean exports for the week ending March 15 ranges between 27.5 million and 58.8 million bushels.

Analysts also estimate soymeal exports for the week ending March 15 will come in between 100,000 and 300,000 metric tons, with another 20,000 to 50,000 metric tons in soyoil sales.

Preliminary volume estimates were for 168,840 contracts, a 31% jump from Tuesday’s final tally of 128,484.


Wheat prices slugged through a choppy session, with some contracts down double digits at midday before fighting back some of those losses. Prices ended the day in the red, however – except for Chicago SRW futures, which gained a half-cent to close at $4.5325. May Kansas City HRW prices dropped 3.25 cents to $4.6675, and May MGEX spring wheat prices dropped 4 cents to $5.8875. 

Ahead of Thursday’s USDA weekly export sales report, trade estimates for wheat exports for the week ending March 15 ranges between 5.5 million and 18.4 million bushels.

In an increasingly unsurprising announcement, Jordan has made no purchases in its international tender for 4.6 million bushels of feed barley, which closed earlier on Wednesday. Jordan has struggled to purchase barley and wheat over the past few months, with reduced participation in tenders over payment terms and quality controls. 

Russia’s Agriculture Minister said Wednesday his country’s 2017/18 grain exports could reach 52 to 53 million metric tons, up from prior estimates of 50 million metric tons. Russia is the world’s No. 1 wheat exporter, and it also ships out significant amounts of corn and barley.

Faced with a domestic deficit, India has scrapped plans to double its wheat import taxes to 40%, with domestic production falling about 51 million bushels below government targets. 

The United nations has purchased 2.2 million bushels of wheat from Romania to be used as food aid for east Africa and Yemen. 

Preliminary volume estimates were for 117,498 CBOT contracts, down almost 19% from Tuesday’s final count of 144,712.

Corn Outlook

Soybean Outlook

Wheat Outlook



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