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US corn market held steady last week as prices are expected to go slightly up

Corn prices are expected to go up as corn harvest is expected to start in parts of the Midwest in the next two weeks. 

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Wheat

US markets were little changed in Chicago and higher in Minneapolis as the US and international weather concerns remained important. Ideas are that current international price relationships will make for good demand for US Wheat, but sales shown in the export sales report from USDA last week were not strong. Even so, US prices are competitive in world markets and are now below offers from Australia in Asia due to reduced Australian production potential.

The market has been under pressure from ideas that there will be plenty of wheat available in the world market due to the big increase in production in Russia. Russian prices are trending higher now due to the demand there and farmer holding. Canada has also forecast better than expected production for the current year. Canada has suffered through conditions very much like the US, with hot and dry weather in western sections of the Prairies. 

Australia also suffered from the hot and dry weather at key times in the growing cycle, and less production has been forecast by ABARES and other sources. Production ideas are now near or below 2o million tons for the country, but ideas are dropping as it is still dry and the plants are trying to fill kernels. Argentina has seen rains for the last few weeks and the crop is trying to get ready for harvest. Demand for US Wheat remains primarily for HRW and HRS, the higher protein wheats grown in the US. 

Weekly Chicago Soft Red Winter Wheat Futures © Jack Scoville

Weekly Chicago Hard Red Winter Wheat Futures © Jack Scoville

Weekly Minneapolis Hard Red Spring Wheat Futures © Jack Scoville

Corn

Corn held to its trading range and oats closed higher as the US corn harvest starts to expand into parts of the Midwest. The market will now start to hear actual harvest results as the harvest of corn should start in parts of the Midwest this week or next. The crop is drying down quickly now, so the chances for the weather to help or hurt production potential is more limited. 

Variable growing conditions continue. The Midwest will see warm weather early this week and cooler temperatures for the second half of the week. The crop needs warmer weather to return to help push development towards maturity. It has been very hot for the last week to push the crops to maturity. Some crops in the Southeast were hurt from winds and rains left by Hurricane Irma, but the damage should be limited. Harvest results so far from the Delta and Southeast point to very good yields in these areas The weekly charts suggest that prices should be able to move a little higher before finding much selling interest.

us corn market

Weekly Corn Futures © Jack Scoville

Weekly Oats Futures © Jack Scoville

Soybeans and Soybean Meal

Soybeans and soybean meal were higher last week on very strong demand. USDA reported very strong sales in its weekly report, and also reported some big sales last week on the daily reporting system. The sales have countered any harvest pressure as the harvest starts to expand in the Midwest. The big US demand has come even with good demand for Brazilian and Argentine soybeans as world buyers return for fresh US harvest supplies.

The initial results posted by farmers in parts of central Illinois and central Indiana are below those of last year and also below the averages. It is still early and there is almost all of the harvest left to go. Most areas are still filling pods and turning color in preparation for maturity and harvest. There will be some warmer temperatures in the forecast early this week, but temperatures should turn cooler later in the week. Many areas need more rain to fill the pods well, but it has been dry. The crop still has the potential for solid yields, but the current weather does not promote increasing or anywhere near record yields. 

Weekly Chicago Soybeans Futures © Jack Scoville

Weekly Chicago Soybean Meal Futures © Jack Scoville

Rice

Rice closed lower last week as some speculative selling was seen on Friday. The selling was enough to turn trends down on the daily charts. Harvesting resumed in Texas and Louisiana after Harvey left, and field yield reports have been variable to good in Louisiana and good in Texas. Quality reports, in general, have been good to very good. Crops are being harvested in areas from Mississippi to Missouri.

Crop potential in these states is an open question due primarily to harsh weather at the start of the growing season and variable conditions for much of the year, but producers seem to expect good quality crops and hope for very good yields. The current results in these areas are so far supporting the ideas of good quality and good field yields. Harvest progress is rapid now and it is likely that the harvest can be done in just a few weeks. 

Asian prices remain soft. The Asian market has been weaker in the last few weeks as the next harvest comes closer in many countries. Growing conditions are improved in India as the monsoon has been better as monsoon rains have generally been good. However, Bangladesh has been hurt by flooding and is preparing to import a lot of Rice this year. Most of Indochina and Southeast Asia have seen good weather. 

Weekly Chicago Rice Futures © Jack Scoville

Palm Oil and Vegetable Oils

Palm oil futures moved higher on reports of strong demand since exports reported by the private sources has been much higher than last month. There are ideas that production has now topped out and that trends will be for lower monthly production for the next several months. However, the private surveyors released demand reports and the export pace was very strong and much above trade expectations. The demand overwhelmed any concerns about the production, and futures were able to move to new highs for the move, only to see speculative selling develop again late in the week as Malaysia had a long weekend and many decided to get out of positions. 

Price trends remain up for palm oil despite the late week selling. Soybean oil was lower last week. Canola was higher in part on little farm selling despite increasing harvest activity. Farmers have not really been selling yet, but probably will need to start soon as the futures market is showing that weaker prices are now possible. There have not been many yield reports yet, but those heard imply a good but not great crop. The Canadian Dollar remains generally strong against the US Dollar.   

Weekly Malaysian Palm Oil Futures © Jack Scoville

Weekly Chicago Soybean Oil Futures © Jack Scoville

Weekly Canola Futures © Jack Scoville

Cotton

Cotton moved lower. There are still ideas of significant losses in parts of Texas and the Southeast from the storms, but there have been no real estimates released by anyone just yet. Reports should be heard this week, but it is possible that a million bales were lost between the two events. USDA data implied that those losses can be managed. 

Harvest is active and will become more active as more and more of the crop comes to maturity, Bolls are open or are opening now in just about all production areas. West Texas conditions are called good and the Southwest should be good despite hot weather this year. The trade will monitor the condition reports released on Monday for clues to damage potential in the Southeast. 

There is strong production potential in Asia, and mostly in India and Pakistan due to improved monsoon rains. Some rains are expected in most areas this week amid relatively moderate temperatures. Chinese growing conditions are good. Areas to the south of Russia are in good condition.

Weekly US Cotton Futures © Jack Scoville

Frozen Concentrated Orange Juice and Citrus

FCOJ closed lower on Friday and for the week as Hurricane Irma damaged the Florida production. Ideas are that the damage in Florida was extensive, but the market has been weak, anyway. No one is sure how much fruit was lost as that data is now being collected. The losses could be major, and some have said there will be at least 10% of the production potential lost. The lost production could easily be much higher than that.

There is potential for major production losses as the fruit is not yet mature, but is big and could be bigger than the initial trade ideas. Improved year on year production had been expected this year, but this potential is probably gone. The demand side remains weak and there are plenty of supplies in the US. Brazil crops remain in mostly good condition and production estimates are high.

Weekly FCOJ Futures © Jack Scoville

Coffee

Futures were stable in New York and stable in London last week, with commercials scale down buyers and speculators buying to cover short positions in New York. The trends are down on the charts in London but are turning up in New York. The Brazil weather and tree condition is the main fundamental reason for higher New York prices. 

There is still some concern about dry weather there as early rains have caused the first flowering in many areas. There is some talk that the rains and flowering came too early and that at least some flowers could be aborted if an extended dry period arrives. However, it is normally a dry time, so the potential for losses is a matter of debate right now. It was dry last week and should be dry this week. There are also reports that older trees in Brazil are defoliating or dropping leaves due to the stressful conditions of the last year. These trees will not produce much if this is true.

Cash market conditions in Central America remain quiet as the next harvest is getting started. There is coffee to sell and offers are on the table for the next crop, but little buying interest from anyone. Colombia has reported some difficult growing conditions, but exports have held well as production appears to be good due to younger trees that are more vigorous and produce better under more stressful conditions.    

Weekly New York Arabica Coffee Futures © Jack Scoville

Weekly London Robusta Coffee Futures © Jack Scoville

Sugar

Futures were lower in New York and in London, and price trends are down in London. Hurricane Irma damaged some Sugar production areas in Florida. These areas are near the lake and probably saw some extreme winds and rains. It has hurt some areas in the islands and any sugar in these areas was damaged or lost. The market expects firmer prices over time in part due to the moves in Brazil to increase ethanol production through higher gas prices and as the Indian harvest could be delayed due to wet conditions that would delay sugarcane harvesting. 

Overall upside potential is limited as there are still projections for a surplus in the world production, and these projections for the surplus seem to be getting bigger over time. Production potential in Thailand seems strong as monsoon rains have been better than last year. It is raining in much of India now as the monsoon is active, and reports indicate good to heavy rains in many areas. 

Weekly New York World Raw Sugar Futures © Jack Scoville

Weekly London White Sugar Futures © Jack Scoville

Cocoa

Futures markets were higher last week but remain in a broad trading range. The weekly charts suggest that futures are forming what could be an important low at this time. The supply for the coming year would seem to be good and enough for the market. Nigeria and Cameroon have both noted strong production from the initial harvest. Ghana said it now expects higher production than in initial estimates and above 800,000 tons.

The demand should continue to increase if prices remain relatively cheap and as retail prices continue to move lower in important consuming areas like Europe. World consumer markets, in general, seem to be getting better economically, also supporting better demand ideas. Grinders and chocolate manufacturers are able to make plenty of money with current differentials. The next production cycle still appears to be big since the growing conditions around the world are generally good.

Ivory Coast has already sold 1.32 million tons of Cocoa into the world market, and selling is reported from other countries as the harvest has started. East African conditions are too dry but there is still a crop growing and generally, good production is expected. Good conditions are still being reported in Southeast Asia as it has turned seasonally drier in growing areas of Indonesia and Malaysia. 

Weekly New York Cocoa Futures © Jack Scoville

Weekly London Cocoa Futures © Jack Scoville

Dairy and Meat

Dairy markets were steady last week. Milk and cheese demand has been mixed, but butter demand has been strong. The trade expects higher butter prices due to very good demand and adequate supplies. Demand is good for cream, but cream has generally been available to meet the demand. 

Cream demand for butter has been very good. Demand for ice cream has been mixed depending on the region but is becoming less now as the US summer comes to a close. Cheese demand still appears to be weaker and inventories appear high. US production conditions have featured some abnormally hot weather in the west that is hurting milk production. Production in the rest of the country has been strong. 

US cattle and beef prices were higher. The beef market remains weaker in the last couple of weeks, although somewhat better last week. Cattle prices were tough to gauge last week as the cash market really did not trade. It is the threat of increased supplies down the road that keeps the packers from buying aggressively. 

Feedlots are filled and cattle will continue to be offered to the cash market. However, ideas are that more supplies are coming as weight per carcass is high and more cattle is coming to the market. Demand will turn lower and will shift to roasts and things like that now that the summer is ending and there is less for the barbeque. The Cattle on Feed reports showed much higher placements than anticipated, and the Cold Storage report showed high beef supplies, so the market will see a lot of selling pressure this week.

Pork markets and lean hogs futures were weaker on a seasonal trend to lower demand. The market made new lows for the move and price action remains poor. Ideas are that futures are too cheap to cash and that the spread between the two need to come together more than they are now. Demand has been lower for the last couple of weeks and this has affected pricing.

Demand starts to work lower as most of the summer buying is done. Buying will start to shift away from grill items to items for the oven. There are plenty of supplies out there for any demand. The charts show that the market could work lower. However, prices are getting close to longer-term lows and so the downside might be limited. 

Weekly Chicago Class 3 Milk Futures © Jack Scoville

Weekly Chicago Cheese Futures © Jack Scoville

Weekly Chicago Butter Futures © Jack Scoville

Weekly Chicago Live Cattle Futures © Jack Scoville

Weekly Feeder Cattle Futures © Jack Scoville

Weekly Chicago Lean Hog Futures © Jack Scoville

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DISCLAIMER: This article expresses my own ideas and opinions. Any information I have shared are from sources that I believe to be reliable and accurate. I did not receive any financial compensation in writing this post, nor do I own any shares in any company I’ve mentioned. I encourage any reader to do their own diligent research first before making any investment decisions.

Jack Scoville is a futures market analyst specializing in grains, softs, rice, oilseeds, and tropical products such as coffee and sugar. In addition to writing daily market commentaries in both English and Spanish, he offers brokerage services to an international clientele of agricultural producers, processors, exporters, and other professional traders. He is regularly quoted by major wire services including Dow Jones, AP, and Reuters. His comments are sourced by newspapers around the world and on various radio and television programs.

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