It has been a wild old week in the ag commodities, swinging from limit down to limit up in the space of a couple of days. The initial move lower was sparked by a dearth of new bullish news and an opportunity for some managed money to capture profit.

However, just a few days later, Chinese corn purchases (1.36mmt in one day, 2.04mmt over two days) ramped up which got the bulls excited again. Adding fuel to the fire was a raft of other news which has kept the market ticking higher.  Firstly, Russia finally confirmed its intention to implement a higher export tax on wheat (€50/t) by the 15th March. This is on top of the €30/t export tax due to come into play by the 15th February.

Ukraine capped corn exports – in another example of Government intervention to stabilise feed prices – which had been widely expected.  Brazil, which had been suffering from drier than average conditions, is now suddenly wet. This is a boon for later sown and later maturing crops, it has however seen the supply of beans to port drop considerably. This weeks bean exports totalled 225kmt, compared to a weekly forecast export program of 1.03mmt.

A week can be a long time in a market that is grappling with supply issues.

Closer to home, Australian barley has been a big winner from a recent Saudi tender.  The original tender specified an amount around 430kmt of optional origin feed barley. The final amount bought was 660kmt with a price of US$277 CnF (18% above the previous tender) or roughly AU$350/t. The Black Sea will supply about 60kmt, with the remainder being sourced from Australia. This is a welcome return back to the Middle East for Aussie barley which has had too many question marks hanging over it for too long.  If China continues to mop up European and Black Sea origin barley like it has this year, it will hopefully mean our barley producers will barely notice the absence of China as an export destination.

Next week

This week should see Saudi announce a wheat tender.  If the barley result is anything to go by, it should be a shot in the arm for export wheat prices. 

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Click on graph to expand

Click on graph to expand

Data sources: USDA, SovEcon, Reuters, Mecardo

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