Export business is typically slow over the holidays, and the 2011 season was no exception. But bookings roared back to life in the first week of the New Year, coming in better than expected across the board for corn, soybeans and wheat, according to USDA.
Soybeans topped the field with 36.4 million bushels of new sales, continuing their recovery from a slow start to the marketing year. While China official took just over a third of the new bookings, there were also significant sales to “unknown destinations” that may also include the world’s biggest importer. After declining year to year purchases earlier, China appears to be buying again, thanks in part to improved crush margins there. Some front-loading may also be underway as traders prepare to take a break for Lunar New Year celebrations.
Soybean shipments of almost 40 million bushels were also strong, with China according for 72% of the total, USDA reports.
China also continued its pre-holiday pattern of buying – and immediately shipping out – at least a couple cargoes of U.S. corn. That included 5.2 million bushels of new purchases switched from unknown destinations in the week ending Jan. 12. Mexico, which bought more corn earlier this week, was the leading buyer, posting 15.3 million bushels of new purchases.
Total corn sales for the week were 29.9 million bushels, with shipments fractionally less. The shipments total remains behind the weekly rate forecast by USDA for the rest of the marketing year.
Wheat sales of 21.7 million bushels also improved from the previous week, topping trade guesses by a third. While most of the deals were with regular customers, some have started taking more than one load at a time, which is encouraging. However, shipments were slow, falling 5.6 million bushels below the rate forecast by USDA for the second half of the marketing year. White wheat was the leading class bought, helping account for the big surge in basis seen recently off the PNW.
For the complete export report, click here.