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U.S. soybean, wheat ending stocks up as exports fall

WASHINGTON, D.C. (Reuters) — The forecast for U.S. year-end stocks of wheat and soybeans were raised in the monthly U.S. Department of Agriculture supply and demand report because of dwindling export demand for U.S. supplies.

However, the department trimmed its year end stocks estimate for corn because of rising use from the ethanol sector.

The report pegged soybean 2017-18 ending stocks at 445 million bushels, up 20 million from its November outlook and above the average of the trade’s expectation of 438 million bu. The USDA lowered its export forecast for the oilseed by 25 million bu. and raised seed use by five million bu.

U.S. soybean exporters have seen a slow start to the marketing year with the pace of shipments lagging well behind what is needed to meet the USDA’s bullish projections. Plentiful supplies from Argentina and Brazil have provided overseas buyers with alternatives to U.S. soybeans.

The USDA pegged U.S. wheat ending stocks at 960 million bu., up from the 935 million bu. forecast in the November report. The trade on average had expected 938 million bu.

The larger than expected crop in Canada is expected to increase competition in foreign markets and hurt demand for U.S. exports.

The USDA lowered its 2017-18 wheat export outlook by 25 million bu. to 975 million bu. It raised its estimate of the Canadian wheat crop by three million tonnes to 30 million.

The report was mildly positive for corn prices. It cut domestic corn ending stocks for 2017-18 to 2.437 billion bu. from 2.487 billion bu.

Analysts had been expecting corn ending stocks of 2.478 billion bu.

The USDA raised its forecast for corn used for ethanol in the marketing year to 5.525 billion bu. from 5.475 billion bu.

The department noted sorghum exports to China are up, lifting its price in the U.S. and reducing the economics of using it to produce ethanol.

U.S. soybean planting might surpass corn for first time

CHICAGO, Ill. (Reuters) — Private analytics firm Informa Economics raised its forecast of U.S. 2018 soybean plantings to 91.387 million acres, a potential record high, and trimmed its 2018 corn plantings projection to 89.675 million acres, according to an Informa client note obtained by Reuters.

If it proves true, it would be the first time that U.S. soybean area topped corn area.

It would be a 1.3 percent increase over last year’s soybean area of 90.20 million acres.

For corn, it would be a decline of 0.8 percent from last year’s 90.43 million acres.

Informa also lowered its estimate of U.S. winter wheat plantings for harvest in 2018 to 31.093 million acres, down from its month-ago figure of 31.923 million. The new number is down 2.4 percent from last year’s seeded area of 32.696. According to records going back to 1909, it would be the second smallest area, second only to 1909.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is scheduled to release its first estimate of U.S. winter wheat seedings for harvest in 2018, along with revised estimates of 2017 crop production, on Jan. 12.

Reviewing the most recent U.S. harvest, the firm put the 2017 corn yield at 176.6 bushels per acre, above the USDA’s last estimate of 175.4 bu., a second Informa client note said.

Informa estimated 2017 corn production at 14.676 billion bu., compared to the USDA’s figure of 14.578 billion.

For soybeans, Informa put the 2017 soybean yield at 49.7 bu. per acre, up from the USDA’s last figure of 49.5. The firm put soybean production at 4.45 billion bu., compared with the USDA’s estimate of 4.425 billion.

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