February 1, 2019
- The U.S. federal government reopened on Jan. 25, 2019. USDA will release its WASDE, quarterly grain stocks and winter wheat seeding reports on Feb. 8, 2019. USDA announced it will delay the release of the export sales data it gathered during the partial shutdown as follows: export sales as of Dec. 20, 2018 of 526,300 metric tons (MT) were published yesterday (Jan. 31, 2019). Export sales as of Dec. 27, 2018, will be published on Feb. 7, 2019. USDA will then publish a combined report on Feb. 22, 2019, for the confirmed export sales between Jan. 10 and Feb. 14.
- Wheat futures rallied toward the end of the week as speculation circulated that U.S. wheat is cheap enough to compete in North African markets and news of China’s bilateral trade talks in Washington brought hope that China may eventually import U.S. wheat. Week over week, soft red winter (SRW) and hard red spring (HRS) futures increased while hard red winter (HRW) futures tapered slightly. A softer U.S. dollar supported gains. March SRW futures closed 4 cents up from the previous week at $5.24/bu. HRW futures fell a penny to $5.08/bu. HRS futures gained one cent landing at $5.75/bu. CBOT March corn futures were down 2 cents at $3.78/bu. CBOT March soybean futures were down 8 cents at $9.17/bu.
- Record cold temperatures in the Midwest (see below) slowed rail and barge movement this week which supported HRS and HRW export basis in the Gulf for nearby and deferred delivery months. Steady demand and decreased soft white (SW) stocks, now below 20%, supported SW prices in the Pacific Northwest (PNW), while export basis for HRS and HRW remained relatively stable week over week due to routine export demand. The Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Seaway System closed on Dec. 31, 2018 and will re-open in March 2019. The Columbia – Snake River System will be closed for annual, planned maintenance Mar. 2 to 24, 2019.
- Dangerously cold weather dominated the headlines across most of the United States this week as temperatures well below zero degrees Fahrenheit blasted the Midwest, Great Lakes, and parts of the Plains states. The February 1 Drought Monitor reported other parts of the Midwest (across Illinois, Indiana and Ohio) saw below normal temperatures and ample precipitation. The High Plains were drier than normal with moderate precipitation in some parts of the Dakotas, southeast Nebraska, Colorado, and Wyoming. Western states received little precipitation and lagging snowfall in Idaho exacerbated moderate drought conditions. Looking ahead, western states will experience significant storm activity and colder than normal temperatures will linger in the High Plains and the PNW.
- International Grains Council (IGC) estimates that 2018/19 world production will decrease 4% year over year. Major decreases come from Russia (down 15%), the EU (down 9%), Ukraine (down 7%) and Australia (down 22%). IGC estimates U.S. production will increase 8% over last year. The report predicts total global consumption will hold steady year over year.
- The European Commission cut its estimate of 2018/19 soft wheat (all non-durum wheat) exports by 2 million metric tons (MMT) from 20 to 18 MMT.
Baltic and U.S. Dollar Indices
- The Baltic Index continued its dramatic plunge from last week to close at 668, its lowest point since August 2016. This marks a 29% drop week over week.
- The Dollar Index closed slightly down week over week at 95.57, compared to last week’s 95.77.
Source: U.S. Wheat Associates