Corn prices tried to firm into the morning break on Friday, after a better than expected weekly export sales total showed strong buying from regular Asian customers around the Feb. 10 USDA crop report.
Taiwan, South Korea and Japan all took multiple cargoes of U.S. corn, helping boost the total of old crop bookings to 36.7 million bushels. While that was down 7% from the strong numbers of the previous period, it still beat both trade estimates and the weekly rate forecast by USDA for the rest of the 2014 crop marketing year.
Year-to-date commitments remain above the normal pace for this time of year compared to USDA's forecast, though shipments are still fairly slow. In part that's because soybeans dominated shipping capacity at U.S. ports.
Soybeans shipments stayed strong in the latest week, falling just under 50 million bushels. There are still 264 million bushels of unshipped sales on the books, and that total rose by another 18.6 million this week.
China continues to show up as the largest buyer, taking 7.5 million of the total, but most of those were shifted from sales previously allocated to unknown destinations, with the world's largest buyer cancelling another 2.2 million. Other European and Asia buyers stepped into the breach to pick up bushels now that Chinese buying is shifting to South America.
Total soybean commitments have reached 96% of USDA's forecast for the marketing year, which runs through Aug. 31. Soybean meal exports also were good at 316,000 MT, keeping the year-to-date total well above the record pace from last year.
Wheat export business remains very lackluster, if not disappointing, with the old crop total falling under 10 million bushels. Buyers continue to book only single cargoes, evidence of hand-to-mouth buying that suggests they see no need to stockpile inventory yet due to ample world supplies. Still, year-to-date commitments are a little ahead of the pace expected based on USDA's forecast, which the agency cut in its Feb. 10 update.