U.S. export sales of corn fell to their lowest weekly total on record, government data showed on Thursday, as overseas buyers canceled purchases made earlier in the year.
Concerns about export demand for U.S. corn have weighed on prices for months and the futures market sank to a nine-month low earlier this week, as a massive crop in Brazil was expected to provide a glut of cheaper supplies.
The U.S. Agriculture Department forecasts Brazil will overtake the United States as the top global supplier of corn this year, and Chinese buyers have turned to that market as a reliable supplier of the grain.
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“China has made a strategic decision that rather than deal with the United States and our political differences, they will just buy from Brazil,” said Jim Gerlach, president of broker A/C Trading in Indiana.
Combined corn export sales for both the 2022/23 and 2023/24 marketing years totaled -194,682 tonnes in the week ended April 27, according to U.S. Agriculture Department data released on Thursday morning. The weekly total was the lowest since at least 1999, the earliest that records are available for export sales.
USDA said the total included cancellations of deals totaling 562,800 tonnes by China as well as 168,800 tonnes from unknown buyers.
The cancellations had been expected due to announcements from USDA’s daily reporting system during April and market forecasts for the weekly corn export sales total ranged from -450,000 to 800,000 tonnes.
In early trading, Chicago Board of Trade July corn futures CN3 were down 6-1/4 cents at $5.82-1/4 a bushel.
The weekly total was the first time combined sales added up to a negative figure since July 2021 and eclipsed the previous low of -140,443 tonnes set in July 2012, when a crop-wasting drought in the U.S. Midwest pushed corn prices to record highs.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Mark Weinraub; editing by Jonathan Oatis)