Exports sales of corn in recent weeks were dismal, and for good reason: With supplies at very low levels after the drought, foreign customers went on a diet to ration inventories.
Japan, traditionally the top buyer of U.S. corn, led the list of end users backing away from U.S. originations. Japan turned to corn out of South America and even the Black Sea, while cutting the percentage of corn in feed rations to the lowest point in decades.
That's why this morning's week export sales report is turning heads. USDA reported net new bookings for 2012 and 2013 crop corn at 37.7 million bushels in the latest week. Japan took 18 million bushels of 2012 and 7.4 million bushels of 2013. That could be an indication that feed users recognize last week's failure to break as confirming a bottom.
Export sales of soybeans were the leading story of the summer and fall, but they've started to fade a little. Still the weekly total of 20 million bushels, all old crop, was in line with trade guesses and included 14.5 million bushels by China. That continues to suggest demand from China may be a little better than expected. Shipments of 72.6 million bushels were even more than indicated by Monday's inspections tally, remaining at a record pace.
In addition, USDA continues to confirm sales of soybean oil at a brisk pace, with another 20,000 metric tons announced today to unknown destinations under the agency's daily reporting system for large purchases.
Wheat sales were also good this week at 24.2 million bushels, more than doubling trade guesses. Japan and Mexico each took a couple of loads apiece, though business into the Middle East is still scant. U.S. soft red winter wheat is looking more competitive into Egypt than French wheat right now, raising hopes the U.S. will be able to snare some business in the next snap tender from the world's leading importer.