Have wheat prices fallen far enough to appeal to importers’ urge for a bargain?
It looks that way from weekly US export sales data, which wheat led to a respectable performance.
The US sold 588,384 tonnes of wheat to importers in the week to December 7 – a week which ended with Chicago futures setting fresh contract lows (of $4.21 ½ a bushel March basis).
That was “up 83 percent from the previous week and 97 percent from the prior four-week average”, the US Department of Agriculture said.
It was also comfortably above the 250,000-450,000 tonne range of market estimates.
Hard vs soft
Sales of hard wheat proved particularly firm, including 208,232 tonnes of hard red spring wheat (as traded in Minneapolis) – only the fourth time in 2017 that sales have topped 200,000 tonnes.
Export sales of hard red winter wheat (traded as Kansas City wheat) gained 26% week on week to hit 256,361 tonnes.
Sales of soft red winter wheat, meanwhile, as traded in Chicago, dropped some 30% to 27,814 tonnes.
The data appeared reflected in futures markets on Thursday, when Minneapolis spring wheat for March stood up 0.9% at $6.18 a bushel, while Kansas City wheat for March gained 1.0% to $4.19 ¾ a bushel.
That confirmed the newly-retaken Kansas City premium over Chicago soft red winter wheat, which stood up 0.5% at $4.19 a bushel for March.
US export sales of corn and soybeans in the latest week fell within the range of market expectations, but no better.
For corn, sales of 866,900 tonnes, in line with those of the week before, compared with forecasts of a figure between 700,000-1.00m tonnes.
For soybeans, sales of 1.45m tonnes were at the top end of a forecast range of 1.20m-1.50m tonnes, although down 28% week on week.
Sales vs exports
Cotton export data, meanwhile, reverted to trend.
That is, proving strong for sales, at 259,700 running bales for upland cotton, up 39% week on week (and 277,000 tonnes including pima).
On actual shipments, however, a figure of 166,600 running bales for upland cotton was down 33% week on week.
Indeed, cotton shipments extended a “woefully slow” trend for the marketing year, said Louis Rose at Rose Commodity Group, while terming sales “surprisingly” strong.
The figures leave US cotton export sales well ahead of the pace needed to meet the 14.8m bales in shipments that the USDA expects for 2017-18.
However actual shipments “were around 50% of the requirement”, Mr Rose said.