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Grain Traders Sorting Though Exports Rumors and Macro-Economics

April 23, 2012
By: Brian Grete, Pro Farmer Editor

What Traders are Talking About:

* Brazil not restricting soybean exports. Rumors were rampant last Friday that Brazil was restricting or halting soybean exports. That triggered a strong rally into the close. But Brazilian government officials have denied any such action. "Absolutely not. The government didn't take any decision which would restrict soy exports," Benedito Rosa, director of commercial affairs at the Agriculture Ministry told Reuters.

The long and short of it: Even if Brazil's government doesn't restrict exports, foreign buyers are struggling to source "enough" soybeans out of Brazil. That's pushing more demand to U.S. soybeans and keeping a solid floor of support under the market.

* China remains interested in U.S. corn -- if the price is right. Earlier this year, China Grain Reserves Corp. (Sinograin) said it would buy U.S. corn if there is demand and the price is right. An official with the company reiterated that stance to newswires over the weekend. But the official was unable to confirm rumored purchases last week. Meanwhile, official customs data showed China imported 1.74 MMT of corn (mostly U.S.) in the first quarter) compared to only 5,216 MT during the same period last year.

The long and short of it: While there has been no confirmation of rumored Chinese purchases of U.S. corn, the two criteria (demand and price) laid out by the Sinograin official both appear to have been met. Chinese buyers have purchased U.S. corn on price dips to the $6 level in the past and the customs data shows there's obvious demand.

* China's manufacturing sector improving, but not expanding. Initial data showed China's manufacturing sector may have bottomed during a sluggish first quarter. HSBC flash PMI data came in at 49.1 compared to a final reading of 48.3 in March. Still, that's below the contraction line of 50. Perhaps the most encouraging data is the export orders sub-index, which rose to 48.9 vs. 47.4 last month.

The long and short of it: Chinese economic data remains very back-and-forth with some figures pointing to a potential hard landing, while others suggest a softer landing.

* Euro-zone PMI contracts more than expected. The euro-zone's private sector contracted at the sharpest rate in five months in April, according to initial data, as the flash composite PMI dropped to 47.4 compared to 49.1 in March. The initial manufacturing PMI slumped to 46 -- the lowest since June 2009 -- from 47.7 last month. The services PMI fell to 47.9 compared to 49.2 in March. In addition, German and French PMI data was disappointing.

The long and short of it: The PMI data signals the euro-zone is on thinner ice than expected. That creates an attitude of risk aversion to start the week, which is not positive for commodities.


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