Market News

Corn, wheat close mostly modestly higher

Soybeans were modestly lower on fund and technical selling. Brazil is expected to make good harvest progress this week and 83% of Argentina’s crop is rated fair to excellent. Both countries are expected to see generally beneficial near-term rainfall. The USDA’s updated supply and demand estimates are out March 8th, with CONAB’s new outlook for Brazil set for the 12th. Export sales were up on the week, but lower than average at 5.9 million bushels. China and the Netherlands were the top buyers, with a significant cancelation by unknown destinations. Nearing the halfway point of the 2023/24 marketing year, the pace remains slower than 2022/23 because of Brazil’s dominance. Soybean meal was mixed, adjusting spreads, and bean oil was steady to firm on spread trade and short covering. The USDA’s monthly crush numbers and 2023 totals are out Friday.

Corn was mixed, mostly steady to firm, adjusting spreads. Weather looks favorable for development and second crop planting in Brazil and development in Argentina, but contracts are oversold and have mostly been able to generate some new buying interest after the recent multi-session run to new lows. Corn for ethanol use demand remains a bright spot, with the USDA’s monthly numbers out Friday, March 1st and the U.S. Energy Information Administration reporting a record high blend rate in 2023, with production and consumption the highest since 2019. The weekly export sales were good at 42.6 million bushels for 2023/24 delivery, but still below the four-week average. The leading purchasers were Mexico and Japan, offsetting a handful of cancelations. 2024/25 sales were 6.5 million bushels, all to Japan. China was noticeably absent, likely due to the renewed corn trade relationship with Ukraine.

The wheat complex was mixed, with nearby Chicago contracts up and Kansas City and Minneapolis finishing modestly higher. Large parts of the southern Plains remain dry, with concerns about potential wildfire impact in some areas, while the complex is technically oversold and generally able to find some support near the recent lows. The big bearish factor continues to be slow export demand, with Ukraine and Russia holding the lowest prices on the market, which should continue to limit any significant upside. U.S sales last week were 12 million bushels, primarily to Japan and unknown destinations. A net decrease of 200,000 bushels for 2024/25 followed a cancelation by Japan. The final quarter of the 2023/24 marketing year starts March 1st. Russia says it is not interested in resuming the Black Sea Grain Initiative and Ukraine continues to explore alternative shipping routes. Australia is expected to be warm and dry this fall, potentially impacting winter wheat production.

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