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Weekly Export Sales: Corn exceeds expectations

Wheat sales relatively sluggish after the prior week’s healthy tally.

The latest export report from USDA, covering sales for the week ending November 8, showed a mixed bag of results, as corn and soybean sales moved ahead of analyst expectations, while wheat sales failed to match a relatively healthy round of exports from the prior week.

For soybeans, China’s relative lack of participation continues to prove worrisome for export sales, notes Farm Futures senior grain market analyst Bryce Knorr. 

“China cancelled another 7.2 million bushels of previous soybean purchases, dropping off the list of leading buyers and accounting for only 3% of total 2018 crop marketing year commitments,” he says. “The European Union and Argentina were the biggest buyers last week and continue to provide a back stop for U.S. farmers while a potential resolution of the trade dispute with China crawls towards talks between President Trump and President Xi of China at the end of the month.”

Sorghum business remains dismal due to the lack of Chinese business, with other customers having plenty of alternatives sources of feed grains, Knorr adds.

Soybean export sales totaled 17.3 million bushels last week, up from the prior week’s anemic 14.4 million bushels but failing to match trade expectations of 20.2 million bushels. Still, the weekly rate needed to meet USDA forecasts is a manageable 20.8 million bushels.

Soybean export shipments fared much better, at a marketing-year high of 49.9 million bushels, lowering the weekly rate needed to match USDA forecasts to 34.5 million bushels. Argentina was the No. 1 destination, with 11.6 million bushels. Top destinations so far in 2018/19 include unknown destinations, with 25% of the total, followed by Mexico (15%), the European Union (13%) and Argentina (6%). 

Corn exports landed 35.1 million bushels in old crop sales, plus another 100,000 bushels of new crop sales, for a total of 35.2 million bushels. That was moderately ahead of the prior week’s tally and analyst expectations, both at 27.6 million bushels. The rate needed to reach USDA forecasts eased fractionally to 34.8 million bushels.

“Corn exports picked up and the book of unshipped sales is relatively low, indicative of how corn has taken command of the export pipeline in the absence of soybeans this year,” Knorr says.

Corn export shipments totaled 43.8 million bushels last week, moving the rate needed to match USDA forecasts slightly higher, to 48.1 million bushels. Mexico was the No. 1 destination last week, with 13.3 million bushels. For the 2018/19 marketing year, Mexico is also the leading destination, accounting for 33% of the total. Other top destinations include Japan (17%), South Korea (8%), unknown destinations (8%) and Colombia (5%).

Wheat export sales totaled 16.1 million bushels last week, down moderately from the prior week’s tally of 24.3 million bushels and falling below trade estimates of 19.3 million bushels. The weekly rate needed to match USDA forecasts is now 17.3 million bushels. 

Wheat export shipments of 9.7 million bushels represented a marketing-year low. The Philippines was last week’s top destination, with 3.5 million bushels. The Philippines also occupies the top spot for U.S. wheat export commitments so far in the 2018/19 marketing year, accounting for 15% of the total. Other leading destinations include Japan (12%), Mexico (12%) and South Korea (7%). 

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