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Weekly Commodity Report w/e 16th March 2018

Wheat futures firmed during the last two weeks, extending the recovery phase.  UK May wheat futures have firmed in the first half of the week continuing last week’s trend, but weakened by Friday.   Reaching a high of £145.25/T but closing at £144.10/T.  With weather challenges in major crop areas, and politics, including continued Brexit negotiations, taking turns to affect both the currency and commodities markets, the market is subject to some volatility.   Forecasts by Phillip Hammond have helped Sterling rise this week to levels not seen since February 27th.  However caution is still seen with the currency markets in general the Brexit transition terms not fully understood.   


European markets most have been low on action, but have finished slightly up.  The predicted cold weather may be holding back traders, as the effect on wheat production is as yet unknown.  FranceAgriMer lowered the predictions for wheat export by 2.4% to 17.1 million tonnes.   Despite this and continued downgrades in European wheat exports the analysis groups look to predict a recovery in EU exports in the 2018-19 crop year.   In the US, weather forecasts remain modest between 250,000-500,000T for US export figures and relief from drought conditions on the southern Plains hard red winter wheat crops remains low.  For some farmers it may be tempting to take the insurance payout for total crop loss and plant the more drought resistant sorghum to replace it.  Spring wheat moved sideways.


IKAR raised Russian wheat export figures figure to an estimated 38.5 million tonnes for 2017-18, up by 1 million from June.

Chicago soya bean futures gained Tuesday, recovering from one month lows ahead of the US export data, but have now reversed to new lows.   We also saw March futures collapse into the contract close.  Expectations are sales of oilseed between 800,000-120Mln T.  Worries about the soya trade between China and the US continue to affect those funds with long positions, as the Chinese could act to counter President Trumps reported tariffs on $60 billion of Chinese goods with restrictions on US goods.  Funds were big sellers.  With predictions of a record 2018 US soya planning at over 92 million acres, up from the 90 million previously reported by the USDA.  Rain predicted to fall in Argentina may improve the current situation, but are unlikely to completely eliminate the threat of dryness.


An extremely rare fossil of a baby bird which lived 127 million years ago and shared the planet with dinosaurs is helping us understand the evolution of birds.   The bird belonged to the enantiornithine family which had teeth and clawed fingers on their wings but feathers much like modern birds.   It is the fact that this tiny, almost complete, hatchling died not long after leaving the egg that is giving scientists a rare chance to examine this critical stage in development that has been previously unseen.    Analysis in a synchrotron-particle accelerator reveal that the cartilage in its sternum had not yet turned to bone and it was unlikely it could fly at this stage.   But it is thought these early birds may, much like our modern chickens, have had feathers and been able to move around from birth.