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Weekly Commodity Report 16th August 2019


A `no deal’ seems to be ever more likely, which could push sterling even weak against both the Euro and Dollar. The idea that the pound could fall to Parity is now starting to be more real despite a little bounce in values last week, and if you are buying your Euros privately to go abroad, it is already under parity!

The most recent monthly USDA report was an important point in the agricultural markets. The trade expected it to provide big changes and provide the next market direction indicator, but it still managed shock - especially in US maize. In response, UK wheat prices dropped dramatically. This has continued to fall, despite the frustration over the poor weather conditions for the UK harvests. Currently, the Nov UK wheat contract holds at £138/T.

The weaker £ has allowed UK wheat to become competitive for export, and the expectation that there will be possible `blocks’ and `difficulties’ post Brexit, many exporters are expected to take advantage and sell while they can in the coming months. The poorer weather has damaged some of the remaining barley, and weak prices and poor export prospects on UK Barley post Brexit, means that some arable farmers are selecting what they need to harvest next.

Before the recent USDA report, the global grain markets lacked direction, being led only by the usual pre report sell off. Once out, the USDA effects were dramatic on both sides of the Atlantic. Maize was the big story, with many in the trade believing that flooding in the corn belt in spring would weaken acreage figures, so the sell-off began immediately, and the other grains followed in sympathy. For the first time the USDA NASS did not use objective yield survey data for the August predictions, but instead used analysis of satellite imagery. The report estimated 90 million acres of corn was planted, a number that shocked despite an increase being expected by most in the trade. It looks like some US farmers chose to plant corn despite the weather, feeling the risk was mitigated with the aid payments promised. The July USDA confirmed $16 billion in aid funds for farmers hurt by the trade conflict with China - payments were between $15 and $150 an acre!

In the Ukraine wheat production figures are looking to be near record levels. 93% of the wheat has been harvested and yields are over 11% up year on year a 28 Mln T crop is possible and will be stiff competition to the Black Sea in the export market.


Soya bean production predictions in the USDA report were down from 3.84 billion bushels last month to 3.68 billion bushels. This indicates that despite the difficulties with Corn, the trade war and loss of the biggest consumer of US soya beans has deterred many farmers from adding to the already large stock levels. However, the support in soya bean price that started prior to the USDA report is likely to be short term, due to the high US stocks and still continuing trade war with China likely to weigh on the market far longer than and outweighing the cut in area reported.

Did you hear about the bears and piglets living on the moon. No its true! The Tardigrades, also known as `water bears’ or `moss piglets’, were traveling on an Israeli spacecraft that crashed on the moon in April. These little life forms are only a millimetre long and are known to survive being heated to 150C and frozen to almost zero. They can even go into suspended animation not eating or moving for years. Because of this, Nova Spivack the boss of the Arch Mission Foundation believes that their chances of survival are high.

Thousands of these little heroes, who do not look out of place playing the role of life from another world, were sent to space as part of a lunar library to various solar locations as a kind of back up to life on earth. With them a 30-million-page archive of human history, knowledge and the planets biology.

For most life there is no coming back from dehydration and extreme environmental conditions, but Tardigrades retract their head and all eight legs then shrivel up shedding almost all the water in their bodies. Their metabolism slows to 0.01% of normal. If reintroduced to water decades later, they can reanimate!

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So tonight, if you see the moon think of those little piglets waiting for a lift to go wee wee wee all the way home and wishing they had been the one that stayed home.

Brought to you by Melanie Blake and Martin Humphrey