Dry weather and Chinese demand give Friday some solid gains
Wheat prices grabbed more weather-related gains – with corn enjoying spillover strength – and a pair of large export sales to China helped boost those prices heading into a three-day weekend. Corn and soybean prices finished about 0.5% to 0.6% higher Friday, with winter wheat prices trending more than 2.5% higher.
This Memorial Day weekend will bring some rains to the central U.S., with the most precipitation possible in parts of the Dakotas and the far eastern Corn Belt. The Central Plains may not see any additional rainfall through the holiday. Daytime highs will be above-normal through the weekend and most of the following week.
Tumbling oil prices also had the Dow down nearly 80 points in early afternoon trading, to 24,733. Oil prices slumped more than 4% Friday afternoon on reports that OPEC may ramp up its production soon. The news also pulled gasoline and diesel prices down about 2.5%. The U.S. Dollar firmed slightly.
Grain markets are closed Monday, May 28, in observance of Memorial Day. Enjoy a safe, enjoyable holiday, and Farm Futures newsletter content will return on May 29.
Corn prices rebounded from small losses Thursday to pick up about two pennies Friday, thanks to spillover strength in wheat. July futures added 1.75 cents to $4.06, while September futures tacked on 2 cents to $4.15.
For the week, July futures finished 0.9% higher.
Corn basis bids were mixed Friday, trending 1 to 2 cents higher at several Midwestern elevators and river terminals, while falling 1 to 2 cents lower across several Midwestern processors and ethanol plants.
Ukraine’s 2018 spring planting season is 95% complete, including on about 11.1 million acres of corn. The world’s No. 3 grain exporter plans to plant about 1.3% more spring crops this season.
South Africa’s total corn production could trend 0.6% higher than April estimates, now reaching 507.9 million bushels, according to a poll of industry experts.
China sold 48.8 million bushels of corn at auction overnight – about 31% of its state reserves available for sale.
For the week, corn speculators increased their net long position by 1,921 contracts to 215,711.
Preliminary volume estimates were for 225,315 contracts, down from Thursday’s surge of 446,544.
Soybean prices ended the week on a high note, supported by promises the U.S. Commerce Department is traveling to Beijing next week for additional trade talks, and bolstered by two large export sales announced Friday morning. July futures trended 5.75 cents higher to $10.4150, while August futures added 6.25 cents to $10.46.
July soybean futures ended the week 4.1% higher.
Soybean basis bids were steady to firm Friday, kicking up 1 to 5 cents higher across multiple Midwestern locations.
Soymeal prices also firmed by nearly 1% Friday, while soyoil and canola prices finished the session lower.
For the third consecutive day, private exporters reported to USDA a large grain export sale. Friday’s announcement was regarding optional-origin sales (which means sales might or might not originate from the U.S.) of 6.1 million bushels of soybeans for delivery to China during the 2018/19 marketing year, which begins September 1. The second announcement was for 11.5 million bushels for delivery to China in 2018/19.
Brazilian consultancy Abiove did not change its estimates from two weeks ago for the country’s 2017/18 soybean production, leaving it unchanged at 4.350 billion bushels. However, Albiove estimates Brazil’s 2018 soybean exports could rise another 1.3%, to 2.649 billion bushels.
The consultancy warned, however, that Brazilian soymeal, soyoil and biodiesel production is drastically lower right now amid a trucker strike over high diesel prices. Albiove warned soybean exports will begin to be compromised if current blockades and other demonstrations carry into their sixth day on Saturday.
For the week, soybean speculators cut their net long position by 11,129 contracts to 48,900.
Preliminary volume estimates were for 153,695 contracts, falling well below Thursday’s final count of 247,822.
Wheat prices continue to trade higher following Thursday’s profit-taking setback on dry weather in several major production areas, including the U.S., Canada, Australia and Russia. July Chicago SRW prices climbed 12.75 cents to $5.43, July Kansas City HRW prices soared 15.5 cents to $5.6450, and July MGEX spring wheat prices gained 9.5 cents to $6.4375.
July Chicago SRW futures rose 4.8% for the week, with Kansas City HRW and MGEX spring wheat contracts also up significantly higher.
Russia’s IKAR consultancy downgraded its estimates for 2018/19 wheat production by about 5% from earlier estimates, and it downgraded total export estimates to about 1.260 billion bushels. Some of Russia’s key production areas are currently battling drought conditions.
French consultancy FranceAgriMer shared a mixed assessment of its cereals crops, meantime, estimating 79% of the country’s soft wheat crop is in good or excellent condition (up from 78% last week), while 76% of its barley crop is in good or excellent condition (down from 77% last week).
For the week, CBOT wheat speculators cut their net short position by 8,557 contracts to 29,482.
Preliminary volume estimates were for 157,054 CBOT contracts, down big from Thursday’s final count of 274,882.