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Wittal: Trade awaits USDA numbers

Feb. 4 — Markets were very jumpy today. Most grains started out with nice positive gains but the lack of new export business, and concerns over where the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) might peg stocks next week, sent things down rather quickly.

Oilseeds were able to hold on to some of today’s gains to finish up slightly, but cereal grains all finished down for the day.

Corn was up 12 cents but finished down three to five cents a bushel; beans were up 22 cents early, but finished up only one to six cents a bushel; wheat was up eight cents and finished down eight to 14 cents a bushel; canola was up $8 a tonne and finished up $2 to $5 a tonne, and barley finished even for the day.

Crude oil futures are down 18 cents to close at US$40.32 a barrel.

The Canadian dollar is up 0.2 cents, closing at US81.17 cents.

This kind of choppy trading is due to a lack of direction in the markets and usually ends up with the markets heading lower in the short term.

Flax prices seem to be on a bit of an upswing on news of a sale to China. The recent hard drop in flax prices, to levels below canola values, basically locked the bin doors so no deliveries were being made. Prices will have to rise back to values equal to or better than canola values to get producers to start selling again.

Reports out of China and Australia that drought conditions are worsening in some of those countries’ grain-growing regions bears watching closely over the next couple of months, as this could no doubt have an impact on futures values going into spring seeding here.

That’s all for this today. — Brian

Brian Wittal has spent over 27 years in the grain industry, including as an elevator manager and producer services representative for Alberta Wheat Pool, a regional sales manager for AgPro Grain and farm business representative for the Canadian Wheat Board, where he helped design some of the new pricing programs. He also operates his own company providing marketing and risk management advice for Prairie grain producers. Brian’s daily commentaries focus on how domestic and world market conditions affect you directly as a grain producers. He welcomes feedback and information on market conditions in your area, such as current offering prices, basis levels, trucking premiums and special crops contracts.

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