Cotton, soymeal star on mixed week for US ag exports


So much for the fears of US cotton export sales proving disappointing.

US Department of Agriculture data on Thursday showed them bouncing back strongly in the week to last Thursday, reaching a six-week high of 303,300 running bales, for upland cotton 2017-18 delivery.

The figure was also “up 50% from the prior four-week average”, the USDA noted, with Vietnam the top buyer although, taking 78,200 running bales, there was a broad spread of other importers too.

Old crop vs new

The jump in exports came despite a strong period for prices, which remained above 81 cents a pound through the week – spurring indeed ideas that demand had tailed off.

And as an extra fillip for cotton bulls, data on actual shipments were strong too, at 305,086 running bales, the strongest figure in nigh on eight months, and eroding concerns a bit that while the US is well ahead on sales of the fibre (compared with official export forecasts for 2017-18) on actual shipments, the target may be hard to reach.

Certainly, the New York cotton market took the news well, with the March contract standing up 1.9% at 78.75 cents a pound in late deals.

The new crop December contract lagged, in adding 0.9% to 75.20 cents a pound.

But then, the USDA data on export sales for 2018-19 (which starts in August) were not so encouraging, showing a figure of 30,712 running bales, a 12-week low for new crop.

‘Export business has picked up’

Also impressive were data on US export sales of corn, at 1.85m tonnes, “up 28% from the previous week and 93% from the prior four-week average”, the USDA said.

This figure was also a 12-week high, and well ahead of market expectations of a figure between 1.0m-1.5m tonnes.

Still, a strong figure was perhaps hardly a surprise, given a string of announcements by the USDA through its daily alerts system of corn export sales.

“Export business has picked up - six of the last seven days we have seen reportable corn sales of 115,000 tonnes or more,” Benson Quinn Commodities said on Wednesday.

White wheat cancellation

Not so impressive were the data on wheat, showing at 289,106 tonnes, “down 32% from the previous week”, and below expectations of 300,000-500,000 tonnes, if comfortably above the four-week average pace.

Still, this did reflect something of a one-off, in net cancellations of 47,200 tonnes in orders of white wheat – the biggest such figure since May 2016.

Export sales of hard red winter wheat were respectable, if not generous, at 218,490 tonnes.

Big soy cancellation too

There was something of an unknown on weak sales data on soybeans – at 359,000 tonnes the lowest of 2017-18, and down 42% week on week.

Investors had expected sales of at least 600,000 tonnes, and potentially 1.0m tonnes.

(Nor were new crop sales anything to shout about, at 50,710 tonnes, well down from the 143,120 tonnes the week before.)
Still, the 2017-18 figure also reflected hefty cancellations, of 400,300 tonnes in orders to “unknown destinations”, without which the performance would have looked a lot more respectable.

And soymeal allowed the complex as a whole to hold its head high, with a US export sales figure of 474,769 tonnes, a high for 2017-18, and in fact the best figure since October 2003.

The Philippines was a big buyer, of 227,900 tonnes, with the purchasing coming amid dryness worries over Argentina, the top soymeal exporter.


Readers choice: TOP-5 articles of the month by UkrAgroConsult