Free Commentary

Grain and soy markets extended the mid-October recovery a bit farther yesterday but appear to have run into a bit of opposition overnight.  Seeing that little has really changed in the overall fundamental picture at this point, I suspect this advance has been charged by seasonal factors and a few bears deciding it was time to step to the sidelines before we reach the final couple of months (read holiday trade) of the year.  As you will soon read, export sales for beans and corn, in particular, we quite respectable, but at this point in the session at least, did not provide bulls any fresh enthusiasm.

As it turned out, China was on a slightly larger b-b-b, bean buying binge last week than many were anticipating.  For the week ending the 14th total bean sales reached 2,878,400 MT or 105.8 million bushels.  Of this total, 66% or 1,884,400 MT were to China, and then 20% or 568.8k MT to unknown destinations.  Coming in at a distant third place was the Netherlands with 127.3k MT.  Corn sales fell within the range of estimates but were still solid at 1,273,100 MT or 50.1 million bushels.  This was 22% higher than the previous week and 67% better than the 4-week average.  Unknown destinations accounted for the largest share with 456.7k MT or 36% of the total.  Mexico was in for 377.1k MT or 30%, and then Japan stepped in for 230.1k MT or 18%.  There was also a sale of 130k MT to Mexico reported this morning.  Wheat sales we not quite so impressive, with a total of 362,400 MT or 13.3 million bushels.  This was down 36% from the previous week and slipped 6% under the 4-week average.  Nigeria was the top purchaser with 98k MT, followed by Japan and Colombia with 92.1k and 76.1k, respectively.  I would point out as well that China was active as well in sorghum and cotton last week.  Looking over the livestock, we appear to have fallen off the proverbial cliff last week.  Beef sales set a marketing-year low of just 7,800 MT, and pork sales dropped 38% to 20,900 MT.

It would appear that clear harvest weather will be more difficult to find in the weeks ahead. According to World Weather, Inc., there are two significant rain events on tap for Saturday through Thursday of next week.  They predict that 85% of the corn belt should see moisture between Saturday and Monday, with the second storm passing through Tuesday through Thursday.  Overall temperatures are expected to move closer to normal, with a hard freeze reaching as far south as southern Minnesota/Northern Iowa.

On the economic front, we find that existing homes sales appear to be doing better than new construction, after trending lower into the summer months.  The NAR reports that existing homes sales in September rose 7%, versus the expected 3.7% increase.  This works out to an annualized 6.29 million units.  The inventory of unsold homes came through at 2.4 months, down from 2.6 months for both July and August, and the average price was $352,800, down 1% from the previous month but up 13.3% from a year ago.