USDA Puts Grains on the Defensive
Dec 11, 2012
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The December USDA report this morning was slightly bullish for corn and soybeans and decidedly bearish for wheat. On the release of the report corn and soybeans rallied while wheat pushed lower. Soon after the pressure in wheat spilled over to corn and then soybeans dragging the grain complex lower.
For corn the USDA left the balance sheet unchanged from last month with ending stocks coming in at 647 million bushels. This was initially seen as supportive because the trade was looking for an increase in projected stocks and it did not come. It is widely believed that the USDA is currently overstating export demand and also possibly ethanol demand. As the day wore on with the heavy pressure in wheat the corn began to come down as well. Traders began to think that maybe the USDA is still going to lower demand and increase ending stocks on the January report and they are just taking another month to continue to gather data. Based on the numbers from the short marketing season so far it seems that export demand could come down 60-100 million bushels if sales remain poor. Ethanol could also be reduced 20-60 million bushels if weekly corn usage does not pick up from current levels. Ethanol stocks remain well above last year suggesting little need for an uptick in production. From a world perspective the USDA lowered Argentinean corn production very slightly by .5 million metric tons. This was less then some expected. On the other hand the USDA increased China's corn production by a whopping 8 million metric tons. This is a huge increase and could help to explain why China has not been an active buyer of late.
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Soybeans enjoyed a 10 million bushel decline in ending stocks to 130 million bushels. The lower stocks figure was a result of a 10 million bushel increase in crush demand. This came as a bit of a surprise as many traders were expecting the decline to come from increased export demand as exports have been strong in recent weeks. Either way, with a tightening stocks number and an announcement of 2 cargoes sold to China this morning soybeans were able to stay relatively firm despite the weakness in wheat and corn. We do have to wonder if it is a bad sign that soybeans posted a lower close on what was supposed to be a bullish report. Soybeans have rallied over $1.20 off of lows in the last month on ideas of stronger demand so much of this report may have already been factored into the market. This could be a little of the buy the rumor sell the fact type trade. This leaves us with the question - was this report bullish enough to justify an new leg higher in this soybean rally? With strong resistance overhead soybeans will need to see continued strong export sales and maybe throw in a little more weather concerns for the South America crop. The USDA did not lower production estimates for Brazil or Argentina as some thought they might after some late planting due to wet conditions. If South American weather stays in a beneficial El Nino pattern there could be mounting pressure on the soybeans.
Wheat had the most dramatic report of the lot with the USDA increasing ending stocks by 50 million bushels. The trade expectations were for a modest increase of 14 million. So, the large increase came as a surprise. The USDA also increased the world ending stocks by 2.8 million metric tons. The continued drought conditions in the plains and talked of banning wheat exports in Russia and Argentina are bullish aspects of the market however, global demand seems to be waning and ending stocks remain large.
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If all goes well in South America the global export market will be flooded with cheaper SA soybeans. With corn demand being as poor as it is corn could also need to lower prices to buy some demand. You have to wonder where corn and wheat would be if it were not for the strength in soybeans and what would happen if the soybeans reverted back to a bear market.
March Corn Daily chart:
January Soybeans Daily chart:
March Wheat Daily chart:
All this means that speculators should be looking for opportunities and producers need to look to lock up some prices while we have corn above $7.00 and soybeans near $15.00. Give me a call for some ideas. In particular, producers looking to hedge all or a portion of their production may be rather interested in some of the options / options-futures strategies that I am currently using.
In my mind there has to be a balance. Neither technical nor fundamental analysis alone is enough to be consistent. Please give me a call for a trade recommendation, and we can put together a trade strategy tailored to your needs. Be safe!
Ted Seifried (312) 277-0113 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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