While weather news has moved the market lately, usually this time of year it's demand that can swing prices up or down. That pattern could trigger some caution by bulls, after a disappointing export sales report released today by USDA.
To be sure, totals reflect business done during the Thanksgiving-shortened period. But the results were much lower than trade guesses.
Analysts had looked for soybean sales to be up despite the holiday to 23 million bushels. Instead, the weekly total came in at just 11.7 million. China took only 7.8 million bushels, though USDA separately Wednesday announced the sale of another 10.7 million bushels to the country under its daily reporting system for large purchases.
China needs to buy 11 million bushels a week on average through February to stay on track with USDA's forecast for the marketing year.
While sale were thin, shipments remain brisk, with almost 50 million bushels put out in the latest week, 71% of them bound for China. And sales of products were big, including 365,000 metric tons of soybean meal and 121,500 metric tons of soybean oil. Most of the oil business was previously announced by the government.
After an increase the previous week, corn sales returned to their lackluster pace. Net new bookings totaled only 10.4 million bushels, half the amount expected. Total sales and shipments are running at their lowest level since USDA began archiving data in 1987, with potential for exports to fall to their lowest level since the export boom kicked off in the 1970s.
Wheat sales also fell short at 10.3 million bushels, barely half the rate forecast by USDA for the marketing year. Customers continue to take rather small amounts, though China did account for a cargo in the latest tally.