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Weekly Export Sales – turning the page

Corn and soybeans kick off the 2019/20 marketing year.

This past week, corn and soybean exports began a new marketing year. Optimism is thin so far after USDA released its latest export sales report that tracked results for the week ending August 29.

“Today’s export sales report for last week won’t do anything to lift depressed spirits in the grain trade as the marketing year’s for corn and soybeans turn the page from the 2018 crop,” says Farm Futures senior grain market analyst Bryce Knorr. “This week’s report covers the period ending Thursday, when just two days remained in the selling seasons. Old crop corn totals were negative due to cancellations from China before news its negotiators would head to the U.S. next month.”

Old crop corn cancellations totaled 6.5 million bushels last week but gathered 16.4 million bushels in new crop sales for a total of 9.9 million bushels. That was far below the prior week’s tally of 33.7 million bushels and just under trade estimates of 10.7 million bushels.

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Corn export shipments only reached 15.0 million bushels last week, meantime.

“Total corn shipments through Thursday are more than 8% below USDA’s forecast for the 2018 crop, but the total for the year could still reach the agency’s target because actual Census numbers remain around 10% higher than weekly inspections,” Knorr says. “The discrepancy could make USDA reluctant to adjust its estimate in the Sept. 12 supply and demand report next week.”

But new crop totals have struggled so far, Knorr adds, with the book for the 2019 marketing year at the lowest levels in 13 years. New crop soybean sales are also lackluster due to the uncertainty from the ongoing U.S.-China trade war, reaching the lowest levels in 11 years.

As the 2018/19 marketing year draws to a close, Mexico remains the leading destinations for U.S. corn export commitments, with 32% of the total. Other top destinations include Japan (26%), Colombia (9%) and South Korea (7%).

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Soybean exports saw 2.6 million bushels in old crop sales last week, plus another 29.0 million bushels in new crop sales, for a total of 31.5 million bushels. That nearly doubled the prior week’s tally and trade estimates, both at 16.5 million bushels.

Despite the ongoing struggles with China, that country still tops destinations for 2018/19 soybean export commitments, with 29% of the total. Other leading destinations include the European Union (16%), Mexico (10%) and Egypt (6%).

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Wheat exports were relatively suppressed last week, dropping from the prior week’s tally of 24.3 million bushels down to 11.5 million bushels for the week ending August 29. The total also fell below trade estimates of 14.1 million bushels.

“Wheat sales last week also disappointed,” Knorr says. “But although the total fell below USDA’s forecast rate for the marketing year, bookings in the first quarter of the wheat marketing year were faster than forecast.”

Through the first three months of the 2019/20 marketing year, Mexico leads all destinations for U.S. wheat export commitments, with 14% of the total. Other top destinations include the Philippines (12%), Japan (10%), Nigeria (6%) and South Korea (6%).

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