Lack of fresh news keeps canola in holding pattern

Weather uncertainty offers support to wheat futures

ICE Futures Canada canola contracts traded within a $10 range during the week ended March 20, but finished Friday’s session relatively in line with where they were seven days earlier. That rangebound activity could be the norm, at least until spring seeding, as canola chops around awaiting some fresh fundamental news.

The May canola contract settled at $460.90 per tonne on March 20, right in the middle of its well-established $450- to $470-per-tonne range. A break to either side would get the ball rolling one way or the other from a chart perspective, but it will likely take an outside influence to trigger such a move.

The two most likely catalysts, in the short term, are the Canadian dollar or the CBOT (Chicago Board of Trade) soy complex.

The Canadian currency saw a couple of volatile days during the week, climbing a penny higher one day, only to drop right back down the next, then jumping back again by Friday. Canadian dollar activity was largely a function of movements in the U.S. currency, which was reacting to statements from the country’s Federal Reserve.

Currency analysts remain of the opinion that a weaker bias in the Canadian dollar is more likely than any sustained strength, at least relative to its U.S. counterpart. However, given Canada’s close economic relationship with the U.S., the Canadian dollar still remains strong relative to other world currencies.

On a more fundamental level, movements in the CBOT soy complex will have a more direct influence on canola, with currency exchange adjustments affecting the visible price more than the actual value.

Soybean futures ended narrowly mixed during the week, after seeing some choppy activity of their own. Attention in the soy market remains fixed on the South American harvest. While supplies from Brazil and Argentina are expected to be bearish overall, logistics issues in the region do have the potential to provide support on occasion. U.S. planting conditions will also become more of a factor going forward, with early expectations calling for record-large planted area this year.

U.S. wheat futures were stronger during the week, moving up across the board as chart-based buying provided some support. North American wheat does remain relatively expensive in the global marketplace, but there are also still enough weather concerns in a number of wheat-producing regions of the world to provide some caution in the futures. In the U.S., winter wheat crop ratings have declined slightly, due to dryness, and will continue to be watched closely.

Ongoing uncertainty over wheat production and the export potential from Russia and Ukraine also remain background factors in the wheat market, with conflicting news from the region keeping the futures on edge.

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Phil Franz-Warkentin - MarketsFarm

Phil Franz-Warkentin writes for MarketsFarm specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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