Oilseeds

by Chris Lyddon
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The approach of big southern hemisphere crops is weighing on oilseeds markets around the world.

In its March Grain Market Report, the International Grains Council (IGC) said that its GOI soybean sub-Index dropped by 8% in the period since the previous issue a month earlier “as harvesting of expected record South American crops weighed on sentiment.”

“Additionally, the fall in the sub-Index was accentuated by a switch to new crop values in Argentina,” it said.

It also explained that U.S. CME futures eased by 3% on heavy fundamental pressure. “While concerns about the impact of logistical difficulties in Brazil, together with heavy rains and flooding in Argentina, initially provided support, prospects for bumper southern hemisphere outturns weighed,” it said. “Lingering talk that U.S. plantings are set to expand to a new record in 2015-16 added to the bearish tone. External markets were also influential at times, with recent movements in the U.S. dollar providing mild underpinning.”

With Gulf basis levels weakening slightly, U.S. export quotations fell by $14, to $390 fob, it said. “Export quotations in South America dropped as combining of anticipated excellent crops advanced,” it said. “Export values in Brazil fell by 2%, to $379 fob Paranagua, with new crop supplies in Argentina competitively priced, at $372 fob Up River.”

The USDA’s Economic Research Service reported upward revisions to its crop forecasts. “Global soybean production for 2014-15 is forecast 407,000 tonnes higher from last month (to 315.5 million),” it said. “Argentine soybean production for 2014-15 was forecast 1 million tonnes higher from last month to a record 57 million due to high soybean yields in areas untouched by February flooding. USDA lowered its 2014-15 soybean production estimate for India this month by 700,000 tonnes to 9.8 million.”

A 250,000-tonne increase for India means that global rapeseed production for 2014-15 is now put at 71.6 million tonnes.

“Low soil moisture at planting time reduced Indian rapeseed area by 7% from 2013-14,” the report said. “But generally favorable growing conditions are expected to improve 2014-15 yields and boost Indian production to 7.1 million tonnes – compared to 7.3 million in 2013-14.”

Additional supplies in the country should keep rapeseed stocks from declining, it said.

“For China, improving crush margins prompted an increase in the 2014-15 forecast of rapeseed imports to 4.1 million tonnes from 3.85 million last month,” it said. “A higher crush in China may then trim 2014-15 rapeseed oil imports from 1 million to 900,000 tonnes.”

USDA has cut its forecast of 2014-15 palm oil production to 19.8 million tonnes, down from its estimate of 20.5 million last month and its figure of 20.2 million for 2013-14, after widespread flooding in peninsular Malaysia during December and January. “Malaysian palm oil exports for 2014-15 are forecast 500,000 tonnes lower to 17.2 million,” it said.

It also reported lower consumption in some palm oil markets. The USDA has cut its figure for imports by the E.U., which it points out is the second largest importer after India, by 200,000 tonnes to 6.8 million tonnes.

“Consumption of palm oil by the E.U. biodiesel industry has been slowed by its unfavorable costs with respect to petroleum-based diesel,” it said. “Also, in March, the price advantage for palm oil against soybean oil at Rotterdam had shrunk considerably.”

Palm oil imports in China were down 24% in October-February, triggering a cut in the USDA’s forecast for the whole year by 400,000 tonnes to 5.7 million.

Britain’s HGCA quoted a Buenos Aires Grain Exchange report which said that Argentina’s soybean crop was 14% harvested as of April 9.

HGCA cited local analysts, AgRural, as saying that 84% of the Brazilian soybean crop was cut by April 10. The USDA in Brasilia forecast 2015-16 soybean production at 94 million tonnes despite a drop in planted area to 31.1 million hectares, a decrease of 1% compared to 2014-15.

“The drop in area is attributed to the relative low global soybean prices, the economic challenges in Brazil, and the expectation of higher interest rates,” it said. “Soybean exports in marketing year 2015-16 are forecast to reach a record 48 million tonnes, up 4% compared to the previous marketing year. This forecast is based on strong demand by China and the expected weak Brazilian Real through 2015 and 2016.”

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