May corn futures closed up ¼ at 3.68 ¼, down 12 1/5 for the week. December corn closed down ½ at 3.77, down 9 from last Friday’s close.
May soybean futures closed down 2 ¼ at 8.92 ¾, down 6 ¼ for the week. November beans closed down 5 ¼ at 9.08 ¼, down 9 ¼ from last Friday’s close.
Rough week for the markets this week. While we’re light on commodity news, I think the COVID-19 virus continues to find a growing space in the spotlight as it spreads into South Korea, Iran, and Italy. Huge losses in the global energy and equity markets over coronavirus concerns have weighed on the commodity markets. Seasonally, we would expect prices to work higher into the spring, but until we know more about the global impact of the coronavirus on demand, it will be an uphill battle. Trade will be keeping a close eye on our export sales and inspections.
Corn export inspections for the week ending 2/20 put shipments at about 913,000 MT, 14.77% higher wk/wk and 19.86% above the same time last year. Corn export sales last week came in at 856,000 MT, on the lower end of market expectations and down over 15 mil bu from last week and the same time last year. These are also the lowest sales numbers we’ve seen in 6 weeks. While disappointing compared to expectations, we are still on track to meet the USDA’s projected number. Weekly EIA report from the week ending 2/21 showed ethanol production at 1.054m, 14k bpd higher wk/wk. Ethanol stocks were down 63k barrels at 24.718m. Taking a look at South America, Brazil’s corn harvest is 31% complete, on track with last year and ahead of their average pace. Their 2nd safrinha corn crop is 47% planted, well behind last year and slightly behind normal schedule. Argentina’s crop continues to develop with few problems, but trade will be keeping a close eye on their weather conditions mid-March.
Soybean export inspections showed 594,536 MT of soybeans exported for the week of 2/20, 40.85% down wk/wk and 54.56% lower than last year. Soybean export SALES came in at 339,309 MT, well below estimates and 16% of last year’s sales for the same time last year. Compared to corn, beans don’t seem to be losing quite as much ground but that is mainly due to strength in the meal market as meal exports continue to be solid. South America’s soybean production continues to appear strong, and analysts do not see a shortage in world supply if the U.S. has another decent soybean crop.
Looking ahead, the USDA’s Prospective Plantings report will be here before we know it. March 31st seems like a ways away, but the market will be looking for news that doesn’t revolve around world-health concerns. That 95 million corn acres could take a step closer to becoming a reality.
Listen to this week's podcast as we cover coronavirus and commodity markets: