Free Commentary

While I recognize It has little to do with markets but everything to do with who we are as a nation, so here are the words spoken by President Abraham Lincoln exactly seven score and seventeen years ago today.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. 

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. 

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

 Abraham Lincoln – November 19, 1863

Weekly export sales for corn and beans came in just above trade expectations but continued the trend of shrinking numbers.  Beans were the standout, and for the week ending November 12th, we sold 1,384,700 MT or 51 million bushels.  This was 6% below last week and was 18% beneath the 4-week average.  Of this total, China purchased 76% of them or 1,060,800 MT, with the next closest buyer being Mexico with 155.9k MT, and then Spain at 144.7k.  One of the first things they teach you in business class is to avoid having a single customer that represents the majority of your business. Obviously, we have not heeded that advice in the U.S. bean export trade.  Corn sales remain just above the million tonnes mark with 1,088,600 MT or 42.9 million bushels, which was 11% below last week and 43% under the 4-week average.  Mexico was the top purchaser with 244.3k MT, followed by Japan at 203.4k and then China for 174.7k.  There have been rumors floating around in the last week that China had been shopping for corn, and this appears to have provided confirmation.  Wheat turned out to be the most disappointing of the bunch, setting a marketing-year low with 192,400 MT or 7 million bushels sales.  China was actually the best buyer with 125k MT, followed by Mexico taking 28.7k and Japan in for 25.4k.  Looking through the rest of the list, we find China buying 131.2k MT of sorghum, canceling 24,200 RB of cotton, buying 131,100 whole cattle hides, they were absent from the beef trade and purchased 2,100 MT of pork.

We do have a little international news this morning.  Analysts now export the South African corn crop to come in at 15.379 MMT, which is just slightly lower than the October estimate of 15.42.  Regardless, this is still 36% higher than last years’ drought-ravaged production.  Rains did move into Southern Brazil during the last 24 hours, which, needless to say, was quite welcome but of course, one rain does not a dry pattern break.  No doubt, this will continue to be THE dominant market factor for the next 60 to 90-days.

Finally, this morning, the weekly Initial Claims for unemployment have been released. While widely expected, the figure moved higher for the first time in the past five weeks, increasing 31,000 to 742,000 new claims. Realistically, we have leveled off at this current level for at least the past couple of months. Still, with much of the nation moving back into various stages of lockdown, it should undoubtedly begin to creep back higher.  It is not exactly the way anyone wants to finish out the year, not to mention lead into the Christmas season.