US corn and soybean export sales beat expectations


US corn export sales enjoyed another strong week.

At 1.75m tonnes in the week to February 22, they beat handsomely market expectations of a figure of 1.0m-1.4m tonnes, US Department of Agriculture data on Thursday showed.

They were also some 200,000 tonnes higher week on week, buoyed by strong demand from Japan, which took 514,500 tonnes.

And actual exports, at 1.28m tonnes, were even more remarkable, in setting a nine-month high (if not quite hitting the 1.31m tonnes suggested on Monday by cargo inspection statistics).

China downturn

Export sales of soybeans, at 857,889 tonnes, also beat market forecasts of a figure between 400,000-700,000 tonnes.

And they represented a marked rebound from the net cancellations of 109,144 tonnes the week before, which represented the worst performance of 2017-18.

Still, the figure, a six-week high, underlined relatively light interest from Chinese buyers in US soybeans, with export sales to the top importing country at 215,600 tonnes.

Total US soybean commitments (ie exports and unfulfilled orders combined) to China are, at 26.42m tonnes, down 23% year on year.

Mexico was the top buyer in the latest week, at 334,500 tonnes.

Winter vs spring

For wheat, however, US export sales, at 191,100 tonnes last week, fell short of expectations of a figure between 200,000-500,000 tonnes.

They were also down 42% week on week, and the lowest in six weeks.

Still, the downturn was not evenly spread, with hard red spring wheat in fact the primary cause of the weakness – recording net cancellations of 36,241 tonnes.

That was a huge swing compared with the net orders of 111,235 tonnes the week before.

Net sales of hard red winter wheat, at 74,989 tonnes, were stable week on week, if at a lowly level.

However, soft red winter wheat, the type traded in Chicago, showed a decent performance, with net sales of 72,935 tonnes, up from 12,641 tonnes the week before and the highest figure of 2018.

Cotton concern

Arguably more disappointing were data on cotton, even if the 294,078 running bales sold last week for upland fibre is eons ahead of the pace needed to meet the total forecast for the whole of 2017-18.

Indeed, one more week at that level would get commitments to the 13.45m running bales the USDA expects for the season – which has a further five months left to run.

The worry, as ever, was the pace of actual shipments, which at 278,682 running bales for upland cotton, was some 70,000 running bales behind the pace needed to meet the forecast, besides being the slowest in five weeks.


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