Following the festive shutdown the May 2019 wheat futures have spent the week moving sideways, finishing the week on £178/T.
A combination of low trade volumes, and a lack of information from the USDA have impacted the UK market as the trade wait. Both the UK and EU markets followed the US slightly lower, with added pressure from an unexpected and aggressive Russian offer for an Egyptian tender mid-week, which lead to an expectation that EU exports may not improve as much as was hoped in the second half of the season. Maize usage continues to have some impact on wheat as prices dropped again this week and usage figures for animal feed are at an all-time high. Nov 18 maize usage was 38% above Nov 17 use. The wheat usage figure was correspondingly down but by 3%. Brexit remains a key driver in the UK as the clock continues to countdown, mostly through its impact on currency, and uncertainty affecting trade. All eyes are focused on the 15th of January vote.
The US was also affected by the lack of interest from Egypt, and with the trade’s growing frustration in the US government shutdown and resulting lack of USDA data. US traders were willing to sell after news from the US/China meeting was limited and President Trump announced that his trip to the World Economic Forum was cancelled – where meetings with the Chinese had been expected to take place. Despite positive reports from the most recent meeting, the lack of news, and length of the trade war is beginning to take its toll. It was expected that the USDA report would lower the US crop estimate figures. As the delay of key information continues, the growing backlog of data increases the chance that the changes when it is published will be more significant and impact the markets more than previous reports.
The end of the week saw a price correction in the soya markets after earlier gains were lost. The lack of clarity on the outcome of the US /China trade discussions has taken a toll on the price as the trade lose confidence. Chinese soya bean stocks have increased, and crush volumes have been cut with the outbreak of African Swine fever continuing. Estimates of Brazil’s soya bean crop size are reducing; less than expected from some sources whilst Argentina is reporting improved weather conditions as planting nears completion - all adding to the pressure on price.
At this time of year many people’s attentions turn to starting a new year with a new year’s resolution. A common theme is diet - after all the excess of the festive period. Well a new UK study has provided yet more motivation to get fit. It made a link between higer belly fat and smaller brain size.
The study showed that people with a higher body mass index and waist-to-hip ratio tend to have a lower average grey matter recorded in MRI studies. Grey matter controls self-control, muscle control and sensory perception to name a few things. The scientists also saw a link between obesity and shrinkage on specific areas of the brain. But further studies are needed to find out if the changes in the brain lead to obesity or obesity causes the changes in the brain. In the future Doctors may be measuring BMI and waist-to-hip ration to measure brain health.
Until then, for anyone who made the resolution to go to the gym or give up chocolate last year and failed - you now have a way to make dieting your secret. Tell everyone that your resolution this year is to train your brain!
Brought to you by Paul Poornan, Melanie Blake and Martin Humphrey.