The November World Agriculture Supply and Demand Estimates report (WASDE) on Wednesday, November 9th, was the thing to watch last week, but overall turned out to be a fairly boring report across all commodities. The market will now be watching to see if corn yield does increase in the final report and for the corn export number to be lowered. Wheat is still driven by headlines and soybeans are still driven by the crush and vegetable oil markets. The Chinese Zero-Covid policy is also causing major swings in the agriculture sector of the markets with soybeans leading it all. Logistics and weather will now set the tone for markets as we go into the holiday season.
Rains in the Mississippi River Valley have improved water levels and corn and bean loadings have increased. Early last week, barge freight started to sharply decline, but U.S. values are still elevated compared to Brazil, which they are taking advantage of. The Secretary of Foreign Trade noted that October corn exports for Brazil were another monthly record at 7.2 MMT. U.S. exports are low, with Monthly Year-to-date shipments 1.7 MMT below a year ago.
The bar for weekly corn exports was set low, but even so, the corn numbers came in way below expectations, nearly ¼ of the volume sold the same week one year ago. Futures hit 60 day lows. The last time commitments were near this level at this stage of the season was 2019 and the final export program ended up 22% smaller than the USDA had projected.
The USDA put the U.S. corn yield higher, increased production, and in turn increased domestic use to offset the carryout in the November WASDE. Exports have not yet been lowered. The final yield and acres will come out in the January WASDE report.
With exports declining and a larger supply and less demand for corn, some are suggesting that rallies should be sold. Corn futures have been in a downtrend since late October, and December futures are approaching the 100-day moving average of 6.505. This level has given support since early September. The December 2022 futures have support at 6.52-6.50 and resistance at 6.59-6.61.
Wheat has been fairly quiet with no huge swings caused by headlines from the Black Sea region. The U.S. Dollar Index collapsed 250 points on Thursday to 60 day lows. Over 75% of the dollar index is European currencies, so the decline has helped U.S. wheat become more competitive against European markets, but our values are still a huge premium to Russian wheat at $95/MT. The December 2022 futures have support at 9.43-9.40 and resistance at 9.53-9.59.
The drought monitor showed that rains improved some of the PNW and eastern Southern Plains’ wheat crops and a few areas were lifted from the drought designation, though 74% of the winter wheat area in the United States is still in a drought.
Poor export sales continued into soybeans with .79 MMT sold versus 1.3 MMT a year ago. China’s soybean imports are well behind pace compared to October 2021 and 2020. Concern for China’s economy is growing; last week they locked down five million people in Guangzhou as there were 3,000 new COVID cases reported. One in five Chinese citizens are currently under some sort of COVID restriction. It is estimated by one bank that their Zero-Covid policy is causing a 12.2% drag on Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Markets swung higher on Friday when China made small changes to their Zero-Covid policy and cut quarantine times in half. Their currency climbed to their highest point against the USD in almost 30 days. The January 2023 futures have support at 14.35-14.30 and resistance at 14.55-14.59.
Cattle & Hogs
The cattle market ended last week on a soft note. The financial markets are extremely volatile and not encouraging for consumers to spend extra money on beef. Cattle feeders are beginning to market slaughter cattle; these cattle were bought as feeders this summer at the second highest price in history. As of Wednesday, November 9th, the ratio of live cattle to corn was at the highest level since August 23rd as corn prices declined and cattle futures held steady.
CME grain markets will close at their regular 12:20pm MT on Wednesday, November 23rd, and re-open at 7:30am MT on Friday morning, November 25th. There will be an early close at 11:05pm MT on Friday, November 25th.
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