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Off-the-combine sales are bearish on canola values

Irma and Harvey create a cautious tone in U.S. markets

ICE Futures Canada canola contracts fell to the bottom edge of their two-month trading range during the week ended Sept. 8, as seasonal harvest pressure and a soaring loonie provided a double whammy of bearish news.

Weather conditions were close to ideal for farmers to make good progress across much of the Prairies, and the resulting influx of sales off the combine saw the commercial pipeline fill right up.

Visible canola supplies in the country had dropped to their tightest level in four years the previous week, at 511,500 tonnes. However, with farmer deliveries of over half a million tonnes over the following week and only lacklustre exports, the stocks were back at the much more comfortable level of 803,700 tonnes in the latest Canadian Grain Commission data released Sept. 8.

The seasonal harvest pressure should keep a lid on canola over the next month, with any upside dependent on outside factors in the meantime.

The Canadian dollar climbed well above 82 U.S. cents during the week, following an unexpected move by the Bank of Canada to raise interest rates. The rising currency cut into crush margins by about $10 over the course, and could also dissuade some future export business.

Statistics Canada also released its ending stocks report for the 2016-17 crop year on Sept. 6. The canola carry-out of 1.3 million tonnes was at the lower end of trade expectations. However, any support for prices was short lived, as all eyes remain focused on the new-crop harvest.

Wheat ending stocks of about 6.9 million tonnes were at the top end of pre-report estimates, but were also largely brushed aside in the face of the 2017 harvest and generally better-than-expected yield reports.

In the U.S., the bulk of the corn and soybean harvest is still to come and the futures kept to relatively sideways trading ranges during the week. The U.S. Department of Agriculture releases its monthly supply/demand report on Sept. 12, and the data should provide some nearby direction for the markets.

Average trade estimates call for slight declines in both soybean and corn yields, which should be somewhat supportive.

The threat of Hurricane Irma was also in the background, as the massive storm was set to make landfall on Florida over the weekend (Sept. 9-10). While the storm may not have an immediate impact on major grain- and oilseed-growing regions, the general sense of caution was still felt in Chicago.

Activity in currency and financial markets stemming from both Irma and Harvey could provide some nearby direction as harvest operations start up in the U.S. Midwest.

About the author

Columnist

Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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