We had hoped to be reporting some clarity and direction by this point after the festive shutdown period, but on a global perspective uncertainty remains too great for many with:
the longest US government shutdown in history still on-going and
Brexit negotiations continuing to create more questions than answers
The May 2019 wheat futures have ended the week slightly down currently trading at £173.10. The price change is due mainly to currency values changing, the French and US wheat market prices remaining comparatively flat. With the country viewing the results and news from the vote as a sign of a softer Brexit agreement, Sterling has firmed against both the Euro and Dollar. Trade volumes picked up around the Brexit vote but quickly settled back to the recent low levels.
The US market remains quiet not just because of the government shutdown which holds back the flow of data and information, but also the growing struggle with this seasons’ (lack of) export pace. Exports are reported to be 11% down year on year when original estimates had been for an increase! Russia’s domestic wheat price is increasing, and there are growing expectations that the January Russian wheat exports will fall to around 1.5 Mln T. If this trend continues, even with what some will feel is `better late than never’ reallocation of export demand to EU and US stocks, concerns may grow for meeting demand towards the end of the season. Both UK and EU grain production is predicted to be increasing for the 2019/20 crop, so the trade expects increased supplies into the next season but with harvest still some way off there is still time for some changes and balancing between new and old crop prices.
This last week was a week of two halves for soya bean prices. Trading down for the first half of the week, again due to a lack of information from the US government shutdown and lack of progress on the key issue of trade with China were weighing heavily on the trade. A press report Friday, gave investors some hint of progress, increasing optimism and allowing some gains at the weeks end. The US Treasury Secretary is reported to have discussed lifting some or all tariffs on Chinese imports but it is believed that this proposal has yet to pass President Trump and a spokesperson denied the report.
The town of Westbrook in Maine has gained an unexpected attraction - an enormous spinning ice disk. With a diameter of between 90 and 100 meters the disk is rotating anti clockwise driven by the flow of the river and ducks have been enjoying a gentle spin on it like a wintery carrousel ride.
This spectacular sight has formed in an eddy, a circular movement of water (or air), in this case in the shallow water near the north side of the Presumpscot river. Researchers believe this ice disk is spinning because of temperature changes in the water creating a vortex effect. The slow flowing eddy is likely colder than the faster flowing water around it and so more likely to freeze. The regular circular shape is being maintained as the rotating disk grinds against the shore.
Drone footage of the spectacle has produced a variety of interesting explanations. Some think it looks like an alien spacecraft, some an ice merry go round and others the fallen full moon. What do you think?
Brought to you by Paul Poornan, Melanie Blake and Martin Humphrey.