What to watch: As Egypt paid $5/t more for its latest wheat tender, rumours of a possible wheat export restriction surfaced out of Russia.
Rising global wheat prices and domestic planting issues gave LIFFE feed wheat futures a 16 per cent boost on September 2019 prices.
UK wheat exports lost momentum in November with only 67,700 tonnes exported compared with 257,000t in the previous month.
Transport strikes in France are limiting the volume of supplies reaching port facilities.
May-20 LIFFE wheat futures closed on Wednesday, January 16 at £157.45/tonne, a rise of £4.70/t on the week.
What a start to the new decade for the UK grain markets. In the wake of rising global wheat prices and domestic planting issues for the 2020 harvest, LIFFE feed wheat futures enjoyed a further 3.8 per cent (£6/t) rally from last Wednesday or about 16 per cent (£22/t) since early September 2019.
New crop prices are also on the rise, standing at their highest level since 2013 for this time of the season. Another wet week has gone by and farmers have still not had a chance to progress with their winter wheat drillings which are estimated to be about 60 per cent complete nationally - a very busy spring is coming up.
The 2020 UK wheat harvest could therefore end up at its lowest level since the early 1980s, below the psychological 10mt mark. The UK is therefore set to return to a net importer position through the 2020/21 marketing season.
Consequently, the spread between Dec-20 Euronext milling wheat and Nov-20 LIFFE feed wheat (new crop) has tumbled from €20/t (EU wheat over UK wheat) in early October to -€4/t (EU wheat below UK wheat).
Anecdotally, HMRC released its monthly trade update and as expected, UK wheat exports have lost momentum in November with only 67,700t exported compared with 257,000t in the previous month when the UK should have left the EU. Cumulatively though, the Jul-Nov-19 UK wheat exports stood at more than 740,000t versus just 130,000t last season.
Benjamin Bodart, CRM AgriCommodities
European markets waited for last Friday’s USDA report and are now waiting for the details, that should emerge, after the China/US trade deal is signed on Wednesday this week.
Various domestic markets have been dealing with internal issues – especially in France where the general strikes have hit day 41.
The reports vary, but with transport disruption domestic values for physical commodities, needed to load ships have found some added support and are also believed to be helping support the MATIF futures markets.
With Brussels unable to publish any exported commodity data since December 23 2019 the trade are relying on ships seen in port which adds to another uncertainty as to how to read the relevant commodities balance sheet.
With such issues, trying to second guess the markets move from here remains difficult.
Confidence will build over time especially as spring approaches and hopefully remaining crops get drilled and those that have overwintered show how good their establishment is.
Cecilia Pryce, Openfield
USDA reported few surprises last Friday as US and global wheat numbers, albeit down month on month, came much in line with trade expectations.
The market now awaits to see if the signing of phase one of the US/China trade deal translates into a surge of Chinese buying of US agricultural products.
US traders believe China will step up its buying of US soybeans, maize and soft red winter wheat, although the balance sheet would suggest there is not much of the last available to sell. However, trade assumptions and optimism have seen markets rise, although a firmer US dollar and talk of higher crops and stocks for 2020 have limited gains.
The general lack of ex-farm sales across much of the EU and the Black Sea region is adding to the market sentiment, leaving exporters struggling to find supplies.
This is not helped by a current transport strike in France, limiting the volume of supplies reaching port facilities and underpinning MATIF futures and EU cash markets.
Overnight, as Egypt paid $5/t more for its latest wheat tender (Russian and Romanian origin), rumours of a possible wheat export restriction surfaced out of Russia, with talk of a 20mt limit after January 31.
Whether this is a reflection of current stocks and concerns over dryness in the current crop, or purely a mechanism to be used if required, remains to be seen, although any talk of Government restriction is deemed as supportive.
David Woodland, ADM Agriculture
As sterling continues to fall, ex-farm rapeseed prices in the UK remain supported. Markets are also seeing strong demand from crushers for the winter period as vegetable oil markets continue to find good support.
This week will also see the ‘phase one’ agreement between the US and China as part of their ongoing trade deal negotiations. However, as Brazilian soybeans are currently cheaper than the US, it is unlikely that China will switch supply unless there is a significant increase in demand.
Currently, the Brazilian soybean harvest is stop-start due to ongoing rainfall, but there are reports of good yields. So far, some analysts are suggesting crop estimates upwards of 125mt.
Elsewhere, official statistics from the Ukrainian Agricultural Ministry show an increase in autumn rapeseed sowings year-on-year.
Andrew Hill, Frontier