The markets were quiet throughout the last half of December as traders were in holiday mode and trade was thin. The end of December marked month, quarter and year end which brought some volatility to the markets as usual. Markets reopened on Tuesday after another long holiday weekend.
The January World Agricultural Supply & Demand Estimate report will come out on January 12. The January report is one of the biggest of the year as it includes final production numbers for the crop year, updated balance sheets, and a first look at winter wheat seedings.
Corn finished out 2022 without much excitement. The March contract did trade above the downtrend line on Friday before reversing lower and settling lower (by a penny) for the day. Despite nearby futures being lower for the day, they were higher for the week and year.
Export sales came in low as expected. Commitments are even slower on a percentage basis than they were in 2019, and are now at 21.4 million metric tons (mmt) versus 40.7 mmt a year ago. China is still holding a large portion of the deficit at 8.6 mmt but Mexico and Japan are also behind.
Last week, U.S. corn was the cheapest corn in the world which is good news for exports, though Brazil’s values are continuing to gain on U.S. values. Brazil’s crop is being maintained and helped by rains, but Argentina’s crop is declining due to drought.
Kansas City wheat finished 2022 strong along with the Chicago and Minneapolis wheat classes. The Kansas City March contract was up over 20 cents for the day on Friday and was up over 10 cents for the week. Kansas City was also up for the year, but down for the month.
The March contract tested resistance on Friday and traded above the trendline before closing right at the trendline. Had it closed above the trendline, the chart could be signaling a breakout in prices. However, only time will tell if this action was “real.” Since there hasn’t been much trade volume due to the holidays, last week’s chart action may not mean much to the bigger picture.
Higher futures prices aren’t helping the U.S. export program as our wheat isn’t competitive in the world market. Russia raised their production estimate which makes U.S. values look even worse comparatively for a longer period of time.
The soybean meal market continued to help soybean values last week. Argentina’s crop condition ratings fell again, now rated at 10% Good/Excellent versus 56% at this time last year. It is also expected that we will see a production estimate reduction for Argentina in January’s WASDE report. Argentina’s plantings are also behind.
Soybean export sales didn’t have much excitement last week either, as China’s weekly purchases are lowering as the seasonal decline in commitments for U.S. beans is starting to show up. The U.S. has only a tenth of the sales booked as it did last year the same week – .26 mmt versus .07 mmt a year ago.
Cattle placements outperformed expectations last Tuesday coming in at 97.9% versus the average trade guess of 95.8% but numbers are still down from last year. Many nearby contracts in the cattle complex made new contract highs on Thursday and there has been high demand in the boxed beef sector.
Crude oil rallied over $2 on Friday. The stock market was down for the day, week, month and year. The USDA reported regional egg prices for December near $5/dozen compared to $2-4 in November and $1-2 last year. Ethanol production declined for the week of December 19 to the lowest level in 11 weeks. Ethanol stocks increased to the largest inventory since April. Gasoline demand increased 7% for the week ahead of Christmas.