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Soybeans rally, see weekly gain

Soybeans were higher on commercial and technical buying, pulling the most active months to a weekly gain. It was an up and down day, with beans eventually able to sustain a bounce off the recent lows while continuing to watch conditions in South America. Export demand is slow, with Brazil controlling the market, despite questions about crop size. The USDA’s updated supply, demand, and production numbers are out March 8th, while CONAB’s new outlook for Brazil is set for March 12th. Paraguay’s first soybean harvest has wrapped up, with production pegged at 9.5 million tons. Soybean meal was higher and bean oil was lower on the adjustment of product spreads. The USDA says 195 million bushels of soybeans were crushed in January 2024, down 9 million from December due to weather issues, but up 4 million from January 2023. For 2023, soybean crush and soybean oil production were higher than 2022.

Corn was modestly lower on profit taking and technical selling, with nearby contracts still ending the week in the black. Development weather in Argentina looks good and second crop planting in Brazil made solid progress over the past week. The trade also has an eye on U.S. conditions ahead of spring planting. The USDA’s Prospective Planting and Quarterly Grain Stocks reports are both out Friday, March 29th. The USDA says January 2024 weather limited corn for ethanol use, with the total at 433.596 million bushels, down 10% from December and 2% from January 2023. DDGS production of 1,763,387 tons was 10% lower than the previous month, but 3% higher than the year before.

The wheat complex was sharply lower on profit taking and technical selling, leaving the complex with a mixed close for the week. The recent mostly higher move has been technical, not fundamental, because of slow demand and large supplies. Ukraine and Russia continue to have the lowest prices on the export market and a significant share of the global trade pie. SovEcon sees February wheat exports at a record 3.8 million tons, compared to 3 million last year. However, the 2023/24 total projection is below the USDA’s last guess due to “existing bottlenecks.” U.S. winter wheat condition ratings generally remain favorable, even the recent dry stretch in the southern U.S. Plains and with some questions about potential wildfire damage. The trade is also keeping an eye on conditions in the northern U.S. Plains and Canada ahead of spring wheat planting. The European Commission lowered its 2023 wheat production guess 300,000 tons to 125.6 million, while raising the import estimate 500,000 tons to 17.5 million. France’s AgriMer has 68% of France’s soft wheat crop in good to very good condition, compared to 95% this time last year. Spring grain planting is underway in southern Ukraine. India’s ag ministry has 2023/24 wheat production at 112 million tons, compared to 114 million from the food secretary and 110.6 million for 2022/23.

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