Market News

Corn, soybeans, wheat finish in positive territory

Soybeans were higher on commercial and technical buying. Contracts are oversold, palm oil was up ahead of the U.S. session, and soybean oil was higher. Harvest activity in Argentina and Brazil is ongoing, while U.S. planting has yet to really start. The USDA’s first planting progress estimate of the season is expected to be in next week’s crop progress and condition update. China’s customs ministry says March soybean imports were 7.77 million tons, an increase of 82% on the year, as delayed January/February shipments finally made it to port. About 5 million tons of that was from the U.S. Quarterly imports were 21.18 million tons, compared to 17.79 million the same time last year. China’s soybean oil stocks are 797,000 tons, compared to 477,000 at the end of January. Soybean meal was lower and bean oil was higher on the adjustment of product spreads. Meal had additional pressure from long-term concerns about livestock feed demand in China connected to African swine fever, while oil saw spillover support from global vegetable oils. Belgium has announced it will ban palm oil and soybean oil use in biofuels and biogases, citing environmental concerns. The U.S. does not export palm oil and the impact on U.S. soybean oil exports should be minimal.

Corn was higher on commercial and technical buying. 4% of the U.S. corn crop is planted, just ahead of average, with a mixed forecast across the Midwest and Plains. Some areas are too wet, others are too dry, while others look nearly ideal. It’s a little early in the season for that to be a big factor but could become a problem if those widely mixed conditions continue through development, especially in areas experiencing drought. Near-term, the bigger issue will be cooler temperatures. There are concerns about crop stress for the critical second crop in dry parts of Brazil. China’s customs data for the first quarter of 2021 have corn imports at 6.727 million tons, up sharply on the year because of increased feed demand. Chinese corn prices remain about $5 higher than U.S. prices. Ethanol futures were higher. The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s weekly ethanol production and stocks numbers are out Wednesday. According to reports, a South Korean feed mill purchased 65,000 tons of optional origin corn.

The wheat complex was higher on commercial and technical buying. 53% of winter wheat is rated good to excellent, steady on the week and down 9% on the year, while spring wheat planting is faster than normal. Part of that is the drier than normal conditions in parts of the northern and northwestern U.S. Plains. Near-term rain forecasts for the U.S. Plains are mixed, better in some areas than others. Global crop conditions generally look good, with the USDA’s next set of supply and demand estimates out May 12th. SovEcon sees production in Russia at 81 million tons, compared to prior projections of 78 million, with all grain in Ukraine at 75 million tons, 10 million higher. Customs data from China puts first quarter 2021 wheat imports at 2.925 million tons, a big jump from the first quarter of 2020. DTN says a South Korean feed mill bought 66,000 tons of feed wheat from an unknown origin, while Japan is tendering for 90,169 tons of food wheat from the U.S. and/or Canada, and Algeria is in the market for 50,000 tons of durum.

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