Quiet markets waiting for USDA reports, sales to China

WINNIPEG – Pending the release of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports on Feb. 8, trading on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) has remained quiet, according to one broker, who was cautious about U.S. soybean sales to China.

Following the 35-day partial U.S. government shutdown that ended on Jan. 25, the USDA will have taken two weeks to prepare the release of its backlogged reports. Scott Capinegro of Barrington Commodity Brokers in Barrington, Ill. stressed that it remains “anyone’s guess” as to how the markets will react come Feb. 8.

“I’m hoping (the USDA reports are) going to be a little bit friendly for corn and wheat. Beans will be more ‘neutral-ish’ maybe a little bit bearish as usual,” he said.

For March corn, Capinegro said he would like to see the price rise to around US$3.90 per bushel, some 10 cents more than it is currently on the CBOT.

Although trade negotiations between the U.S. and China recently ended in Washington, D.C. on a positive note and further talks are set to resume later this month in Beijing, Capinegro was somewhat pessimistic regarding soybean sales to China. As part of the Washington talks, China agreed to purchase five million tonnes of U.S. soybeans.

“You can book them, but its’s still shipments that count,” he commented.

Capinegro pointed to South America as the soybean harvest is underway in Brazil and Argentina, and their large crops could impede U.S. exports as China could switch sellers.

While Brazil’s soybean harvest has been downgraded because of dryness during the growing season, an independent estimate expects the country to reap approximately 112 million tonnes, according to a media report.

“Don’t be surprised down the road all of a sudden to see some cancellations from China,” Capinegro stated, noting this has occurred before.

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