Now that the federal government is back at full operation after a monthlong hiatus, USDA is once again releasing its weekly export data. But some analysts are questioning how helpful this data is – because it’s relatively stale.
“It’s hard to know what to make of today’s export sales report, which included sales made in the week ending Dec. 20,” according to Farm Futures senior grain market analyst Bryce Knorr. “It’s a little like coming across an old magazine you never read. It’s interesting, but is it newsworthy?”
One noteworthy piece of data is that China added to its sales total made earlier in December after trade talks resumed with the U.S., Knorr says.
“But with President Trump apparently headed to China for to meet with President Xi in February, the market is likely to be distracted,” he says. “In the meantime, USDA updates its 2018 crop production estimates for corn and soybeans February 8 and tries to figure out how to change its demand forecasts with data that will be lacking.”
Corn export sales for the week ending December 20 included 66.9 million bushels of old crop sales and 2.1 million bushels of new crop sales for a total of 69.0 million bushels. That was well ahead of the prior week’s tally of 46.3 million bushels and also substantially ahead of the average trade guess of 49.2 million bushels. The latest totals also pushed down the weekly rate needed to match USDA forecasts, now at 33.8 million bushels.
Corn export shipments of 35.4 million bushels did not keep pace with weekly totals needed to meet USDA forecasts, however, now at 48.8 million bushels. They were down 8% from the prior week and fell 13% below the prior four-week average. Mexico was the No. 1 destination, with 9.2 million bushels. Other top destinations included Japan, South Korea, Colombia and Taiwan.
Soybean exports for the week ending December 20 included 87.9 million bushels in old crop sales and another 500,000 bushels in new crop sales for a total of 88.4 million bushels (China’s contribution was for 53.1 million bushels). That nearly tripled the prior week’s total of 32.7 million bushels and landed just above average trade estimates of 84.5 million bushels. The weekly rate needed to meet USDA forecasts shrank to 22.2 million bushels.
Soybean export shipments landed at a more modest total of 22.5 million bushels. The weekly rate needed to meet USDA forecasts moved higher, to 36.4 million bushels. Mexico was the top destination, accounting for 3.8 million bushels. Other top destinations included Thailand, Germany, Saudi Arabia and Japan.
Wheat exports for the week ending December 20 included 19.3 million bushels in old crop sales plus another 2.8 million bushels in new crop sales, for a total of 22.1 million bushels. Totals retreated from the prior week’s tally of 26.3 million bushels but stayed moderately higher than trade estimates, which averaged 14.7 million bushels. The weekly rate needed to match USDA forecasts moved down to 15.9 million bushels.
Wheat export shipments totaled 18.8 million bushels, which is not keeping pace with the weekly rate needed to match USDA forecasts, now at 24.6 million bushels, despite exceeding the prior four-week average by 9%. Bangladesh was the No. 1 destination, with 4.3 million bushels. Other top destinations included Egypt, Indonesia, Thailand and Taiwan.
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