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StatsCan data lifts, U.S. soy drags on canola futures

Trade talks add volatility on the Canadian dollar

Canola futures found themselves in a sea of volatility during the week ended Aug. 31 as trade negotiations, an improving weather situation across Western Canada and a key report by Statistics Canada took turns pulling futures up and down.

The government agency, in its Aug. 31 report, estimated Canadian canola production at 19.2 million acres, which would be down sharply from last year’s total of 21.3 million tonnes.

The news initially sent markets higher but the upward climb was limited by harvest pressure and expectations of revisions in future reports.

The size of the oilseed crop in the U.S. also kept values in check. With expectations this year’s soybean harvest could be record large, it’s hard to see canola skyrocketing any time soon.

In addition to this, the Canadian government found itself having to negotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with the U.S. under the auspices of an artificial deadline. U.S. President Donald Trump had told Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland a deal had to be done by Friday. For the better part of a week pundits debated whether the accelerated timetable was good or bad for Canada, as the U.S. had already signed an agreement with Mexico. The turmoil pushed the Canadian dollar up and down, which also sent canola for a ride.

In the U.S., the soybean market felt downward pressure for much of the week as the aftermath of recent crop estimates from the ProFarmer crop tour continued to linger. A lack of movement on trade negotiations between China and the U.S., coupled with favourable weather conditions across the U.S. Midwest, created a bearish maelstrom for futures. Ideas also took hold that the U.S. government’s announced aid package for farmers would simply encourage them to plant more soybean acres next year.

Corn farmers in the U.S. Corn Belt began selling old-crop supplies in preparation for harvest. Futures initially got a boost from the announcement of a trade deal between Mexico and the U.S. but ultimately fell under the weight of large world supplies. The ProFarmer tour pegged final production numbers in the U.S. at 14.5 billion bushels. China continued to dump corn onto the market through auctions of state-owned supplies.

It was a choppy affair for Chicago wheat futures during the week. Recent chart support that had come from drought problems in the Black Sea region and Europe largely faded away and weekly export sales in the U.S. were lukewarm. One of the key problems for U.S. exporters is the fact the Russian ruble has softened in value over the second half of August, making its wheat cheaper for other countries to buy. However, CBOT wheat did take support from technical buying and rain has slowed down the spring wheat harvest in key areas of the U.S. Plains.

About the author

Columnist

Dave Sims writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting. Dave has a deep background in the radio industry and is a graduate of the University of Winnipeg. He lives in Winnipeg with his wife and two beautiful children. His hobbies include reading, podcasting and following the Atlanta Braves.

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