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Soybeans, corn up modestly at Friday’s close

Soybeans were modestly higher on short covering and technical buying, adding a little bit to the week-to-week gains. Beans were down for much of the day but rallied on the February NOPA crush numbers and concerns about weather in parts of South America. The February NOPA member crush was record large at 184.466 million bushels, up on the month and the year, reflecting the solid domestic demand, along with one more business day than in non-Leap Years. Soybean oil stocks were larger than expected. For South America, parts of Brazil will see harvest delaying rain over the next few days. CONAB’s updated outlook for Brazil’s crops is out April 11th. There was also some help from bean oil, which was up on recent global vegetable oils strength. Soybean meal was lower on technical selling and the larger than a year ago crop for Argentina, which is normally the world’s largest exporter of soybean products. The USDA’s attaché for Argentina did lower their 2023/24 soybean guess to 49.5 million tons, but that’s still almost double 2022/23 thanks to better than a year ago weather. Argentina’s crush should also be considerably larger than last year.

Corn was modestly higher on short covering and technical buying, while still closing modestly lower for the week. Unknown bought 125,000 tons of old crop Friday morning, following up Thursday’s purchase of 110,000 tons by Mexico. There’s more competition on the global market from Ukraine and Brazil, especially for business with China, but Mexico and Japan continue to be consistent customers. Corn for ethanol use demand also remains a positive. Stateside, the trade has an eye on planting conditions in the Corn Belt ahead of widespread spring planting. The USDA’s Prospective Planting report is out March 28th, along with the Quarterly Grain Stocks numbers. South American crop conditions are mixed, with a better chance of rain for Brazil in the coming week ahead of a drier pattern against a week to week decline in ratings for Argentina.

The wheat complex was mostly lower, capping off a down week for the most active contracts at all three U.S. exchanges. Dry conditions have been a recent issue in parts of the U.S. Plains and the Black Sea region, potentially causing some stress to winter wheat. Much of the U.S. Plains continues to run a soil moisture deficit, but on the balance, conditions remain much better than this time last year as the crop inches towards spring emergence. The trade is also watching conditions in the northern U.S. Plains and Canada ahead of spring wheat planting. Russia and Ukraine continue to hold big price advantages on the export market. It remains to be seen if the recent cancelations by China of wheat previously purchased from the U.S., Australia, and France was due to those lower prices out of the Black Sea region, better than expected domestic supplies, or some other factor. The USDA’s next round of supply and demand estimates is out April 11th.

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