In the wheat price surge this week, the leading wheat contract in Minneapolis, US, has risen by more than the entire worth of the contract just months ago.Prices rallied by $5.75 a bushel on Monday, being up by nearly 30pc at one point compared with Friday’s close.
Eight months ago on June 19, the lead Minneapolis wheat contract settled at over $US5.00 a bushel.
Panic over commodity shortages continues to emerge as the dominant factor in the global markets, with both end user and speculative buyers of corn, soybean, cotton, rice and a host of other commodities taking note of what’s happening in the wheat pit.
While US has made improvements to increase crop production efficiency in recent years, the world hasn’t really put sufficient investment into production agriculture for several decades.
The net result has been declining stocks at the same time that expanding global wealth has demanded more raw commodities.
The net result on Monday was new all-time record high prices for corn, soybeans and wheat on the same day.
Sentiment in the marketplace is changing from, ‘buying just-in-time’ to one of, ‘buy what you need at any price’ and then to ‘buy even more to restock the shelves’.
In other words, there’s evidence to suggest that we’re beginning to enter the hoarding phase of the inflationary cycle.
Along that line, commodity traders are attempting to hoard land on which to produce their respective commodities by bidding up prices in an acres war.
The market should remain in this phase until supply reaches surplus levels and everything collapses, similar to what was seen in the late-90s.
However, there’s little evidence at this point that the market will begin that collapse anytime soon, especially with the US growing season still weeks away and weather being as large as it’s ever been this year.
That doesn’t mean that there aren’t risks and that there won’t be large price swings similar to what have been seen in the wheat pits over the past six months.
But it does mean that end users and speculators alike, remain anxious to buy those price breaks when they occur.
Corn was largely a follower on Monday, reacting to sharply higher wheat and soybean prices.
Demand remains good, but most of the focus was with the above two commodities that are facing immediate supply shortfalls.
The real strength in corn is in the fear that other crops will rob too many acres from the feed grain, rendering it short in supply in the next marketing year that begins September 1.
Solid demand for soyoil and soybeans, especially from China, continues to fuel buying interest in the oilseed complex.
China is said to be buying both to fight food inflation and to build inventories ahead of this year’s Olympics.
Supply fears created by adverse weather in China’s rapeseed belt earlier this month, simply reinforced the sentiment.
The outright panic seen in the wheat pits today sent additional tremors through the oilseed market, where traders couldn’t help wonder if a similar scenario could be in its future.
The panic buying came on the day that Minneapolis lifted all daily limits on the March contract, hoping to ensure that the contract would enter into its delivery period in an orderly fashion on Friday.
Nobody wanted to be a seller in this environment, causing the lead contract to quickly surge above $23/bus.
The Minneapolis March contract eventually reached $25 per bushel, before correcting lower to $24 at the close, up $4.75 on the day.
The deferred Minneapolis contracts locked the expanded 90c daily trading limit higher for much of the day.
Limits on those contracts will expand to $1.35 tomorrow, beginning with electronic trade this evening (US central time).
Chicago and Kansas City contracts locked the 60c daily trading limit higher today, with those limits expected to increase to 90c.
(See separate Chicago report)
SOURCE: Farm Progress, US, a Fairfax Media publication
Note: There is a risk associated with trading futures and options. Anyone acting on the Farm Progress, US, information is doing so at this/her own risk.
ARLAN SUDERMAN, FARM PROGRESS GRAIN MARKETS ANALYST 27/02/2008 4:07:50 PM