After a brief lull in November, Chinese buyers returned to the soybean market last week, taking even more than expected. Plus, they were joined by end users around the world who have nowhere else to shop while they want for a still uncertain South American crop to hit the pipeline in 2013.
Net new bookings in the latest week hit 42 million bushels, almost doubling trading guesses and more than three times the levels from the previous period. USDA's weekly tally showed China bought 18.7 million bushels of the total, with Spain also a big buyer, joined by German, Mexico and Thailand.
Shipments were even better than indicated by Monday inspections report, with 57.1 million bushels leaving. Shipments continue to run at a record pace, and 78% of USDA's forecast for the entire marketing year has already been sold or shipped.
Traders had been expecting a good week of sales because USDA previously announced the sale of 10.7 million bushels to China under its daily reporting system for large purchases.
But while bean business was brisk, corn sales remain abysmal. Counting a small cancellation by Japan of new crop, net new bookings for the latest week fell to just 1.9 million bushels. China was actually the leading purchases of corn, taking 4.3 million bushels, though these were switched from business previously reported to unknown destinations, with a small cancellation also noted. Japan, a big buyer the previous period, retreated down the tally sheet as well, as it continues to cut back corn in its livestock rations.
Shipments are also falling, to 11.5 million bushels in the latest week, just 42% of the rate needed to reach USDA's forecast for the marketing year. Originating corn could get even more difficult as low water limits the flow of grain to the Gulf.
Wheat sales rose from the previous week to 13 million bushels, but fell short of trade guesses and the rate needed to reach USDA's forecast for the marketing year. Shipments are also slow. Most buyers continue to take small amounts, though the numbers will pick up next week when the sale to Egypt of 10.3 million bushels of soft week made Saturday is posted. However, this week's rally made U.S. soft red winter wheat originations out of the Gulf more expensive than French wheat into North Africa and the Middle East.