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Corn up modestly, soybeans close firm

Soybeans were modestly higher on short covering and technical buying, finding some support near the recent lows. Soybeans continue to monitor development and harvest conditions in South America. Argentina’s in generally good shape, while Brazil’s harvest should hit the halfway point very soon, which could mean beans will put in a seasonal low soon. The USDA’s next round of supply and demand estimates is out March 8th, with CONAB’s updated outlook for Brazil set for March 12th. Still, other factors will continue to influence beans, including export demand, with Brazil remaining in control of the global market due to favorable pricing, even with the recent decline in production estimates. ANEC sees Brazil’s February soybean exports at 8.5 million tons, quite a bit more than the guess from earlier this month. Soybean meal was higher and bean oil was lower, adjusting spreads.

Corn was modestly higher on short covering and technical buying, extending the modest oversold rally. Corn is watching that development weather in Argentina and the second crop planting pace in Brazil. Demand for ethanol use is solid and export demand is good, but corn continues to see supply pressure. The U.S. Energy Information Administration says ethanol production last week was a four-week low at 1.078 million barrels a day, down 6,000 on the week, but up 75,000 on the year, while stocks hit a 49-week high at 26.022 million barrels, an increase of 520,000 from the previous week and 1.247 million from a year ago. Ethanol exports were below the previous week’s level. For exports, the USDA’s weekly sales numbers are out Thursday morning. U.S. corn exports are facing rising competition from Ukraine, which reportedly sold a significant amount of corn to China this week. China was a primary corn customer for Ukraine before the disruptions caused by the war with Russia. ANEC projects Brazil’s corn exports for February at 716,718 tons, unchanged from the prior estimate.

The wheat complex was mostly lower, with all contracts except March Kansas City down on profit taking, technical selling, and the firm dollar during the session. U.S. winter wheat is in good shape, with minimal impact expected from this week’s cold snap. Most of the hard and soft red winter regions should warm up fairly quickly with the next chance for precipitation starting late this weekend. Spring wheat growing areas in the northern U.S. Plains and Canada are also expected to see some precipitation in that system. Ukraine now has the lowest wheat price in the world, followed by Russia, keeping U.S. wheat at a disadvantage on the export market. The European Union says soft wheat exports since the start of the marketing year July 1st are 20.5 million tons, compared to 21.1 million this time last year. Brazil’s ANEC expects February wheat exports to be 723,922 tons, a little bit larger than the earlier projection.

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