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Weekly Commodity Report 2nd November 2018

This week UK November wheat has traded in a narrow, but generally weaker band between £173 and £171.25/T becoming separated from the gains seen in other markets due to strength of Sterling following news that progress had (might have) been made on Brexit negotiation regarding financial services.  On Thursday, Sterling posted its biggest gain in more than 18 months rallying at above $1.30. 


Due to fears of surplus imported grains, originally destined for the now closed biofuels plants, will depress the wheat prices, grain buyers are hard to find.  Tenders were therefore low for the November contract.  In contrast, the European market is seeing active farmer selling.  Volumes on the Liffe were the highest for two months with currency and the feeling that this season still has a lot of time left and limited grain supporting selling.

President Trump tweeted positive outcomes from talks with Chinas President Xi Jinping on trade, and this was enough to push most US agricultural markets up.  The two meet again at the G-20 summit later this month.  Weather also provided added support.  With excessive rain in the US a risk to winter wheat, while drought risk increasing in the EU/black sea regions and frost risk in Argentina all made headlines.  News that a Russian agricultural safety watchdog plans to ask for the temporary suspension of operations at 5 grain loading points in the Rostov region, with possibilities of similar action in other regions such as Krasnodar, also supported price.  Despite these ports being top grain exporting regions they denied that this was related to the strength of the rouble or attempts to slow exports and stated that it will prevent grain mixing and therefore lower exposure to pests and disease.  Previous increases in quality checks on grain exports made since mid-September have already slowed Russian grain exports.   


The Trump effect was largest for the US soya price, with his tweet creating the usual volatility and interest in all of the soya complex markets driving prices up creating the support to other grains detailed above.  Chicago Soya bean gained back almost two weeks of losses in a single day of trade.  However, it should be noted that US soya bean export figures are still showing cancellations with much of this reported to have been destined for China.  Chinese customs data shows China imported just 132,000T of soya beans from the US in September compared to 937,000T last year.  Brazils export figures were up 115% from last year in contrast.  With the window before the Brazilian crop becoming smaller, hopes are fading for US beans being supplied to China solving the US surplus this season.  This was somewhat balanced globally by lowered expectation of reductions in the use of soya by China. 


We all know that the egg shell is as important as the contents it holds, and how picky the consumer can be over what colour shell is best ….brown, pink even blue-greens then add speckles or not!  The pigments protoporphyrin and biliverdin give rise to the enormous diversity in avian egg coloration.  But where did this colour come from?

You may know that the shell colour has genetic components with different breeds producing different coloured eggs but did you know this is a trait that has been part of the evolution of birds all the way back to the dinosaurs!  

Click on the image to zoom in

Palaeobiologists from the US and Germany analysed fossilised dinosaur eggshells for blue-green and red-brown pigments and found that tiny two-legged insect eating dinosaurs most closely related to modern-day birds contained traces of colour whereas huge brachiosaurus-like titanosaurs did not (much like the reptiles and egg laying mammals of today).  Oviraptor eggshells were most likely an intense blue most comparable to emu eggs where camouflage is required in ground nests.  Other colours and patterns only seen in birds such as speckles are thought to aid in identification so analysis of egg shell colour along with egg shape may indicate the lifestyle similarities between our feathered friends and there dinosaur ancestors.