Firm Friday finish in corn

Soybeans were mixed on old crop/new crop spread adjustments, pressuring nearbys and supporting deferreds. The NOPA crush report was bearish showing a big month to month drop with the number well below analysts’ estimates. According to Dow Jones Newswires, February’s crush by NOPA members was 136.322 million bushels, down 21.9 million bushels from January with the average estimate at 142.4 million bushels. China did buy 165,000 tons of new crop U.S. beans, but that was largely ignored as traders watch South America’s harvest, with new supplies and slowing demand for U.S. beans pressuring the cash basis. Soybean meal was lower on the slowdown in demand but bean oil was up thanks to a comparatively bullish NOPA stocks figure.

Corn was firm on technical buying and short covering. There was no real fresh news but by the end of the day, the path of least resistance for corn was up, at least modestly. Dow Jones Newswires adds there was also some light fund buying. At this point, traders are pretty much just getting ready for the quarterly stocks and prospective planting numbers on the 28th. Ethanol futures were narrowly mixed. Ukraine’s Ag Ministry reports corn stocks on March 1 were 6.6 million tons, 2.9 million of that held by farmers.

The wheat complex was mixed in consolidation trade. Chicago’s looking at solid feed demand and increasing demand for ethanol use and even with some recent improvements, Kansas City remains concerned crop conditions in the Plains. The first national crop progress report of the year is out Monday, April 1. European wheat was up modestly on short covering. According to Ukraine’s Ag Ministry, grain stocks on March 1 were 13.2 million tons, down 37% on the year, with wheat at 4.2 million tons, 1.7 million of that held on farm. USDA’s ag attaché in Syria projects 2012/13 wheat production at 3.7 million tons, down 3.9% from 2011/12 as some acreage is inaccessible due to civil war.

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