Beijing officials may have had some success in seizing up the rumour mill.
If last week brought talk of Chinese corn stocks running low, this one brought a statement from the country’s National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration that grain stocks had been “kept at a high level”, according to the state Xinhua news agency.
“The ratio of China’s grain inventory to consumption far exceeds the warning level designated by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,” Xinhua reported.
It added that rice and wheat stocks were sufficient to “feed the whole population for more than one year”.
(Which represents a substantial amount, when China has a population of some 1.4bn.)
Separately, farm ministry spokesman Tang Ke reassured in particular on supplies of corn, saying that these were sufficient to meet the country’s needs, and that prices – which set five-year highs on China’s Dalian exchange earlier this month, on a spot contract basis - were poised to stabilise.
Whether coincidental or not, buying enthusiasm at China’s latest weekly corn auction, on Thursday, was the weakest since the programme began, three months ago.
Not only were prices the lowest since then, but take-up was, at 88.9%, by a distance the lowest.
Dalian futures, at 2,278 yuan a tonne for the best-traded January contract, are down 1.2% week on week too.
Not, it has to be said, that US export sales data are indicating anything but by strong Chinese demand for imports, with data on Thursday showing a further 660,000 tonnes sold on this route last week – plus a further 747,000 tonnes revealed on the day.
Imports, as well as domestic production, can of course be used to ensure sufficient supplies.
|Results of weekly auctions of corn from Chinese state stockpiles
|Date of auction||Crop on offer (tonnes)
||Proportion of crop on offer sold||Price per tonne (yuan)